The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0250. Friday, 21 February 1997.
Date: Thursday, 20 Feb 1997 9:41 -0500
"As You Like It is Shakespeare's most light-hearted comedy."
(back cover, Oxford Edition)
I=92m beginning to think this misunderstanding was all my fault. I had
seen a production of AYLI last year, on a set so green, that the verdant
memory was running through my mind, even as I entered the theater last
night. My expectation was a trip to the country, everyone=92s in love,
everything is green. It is an expectation that The Shakespeare
Theater=92s current production constantly smashes.
This is the brownest, bloodiest AYLI I ever expect to see. The set is
dominated by large chrome walls and bone-brown stone. There are the
prerequisite symbolic trees, for the most part barren and wind blown. =
Post intermission, we get some flowers and some moisture; but overall, I
was left with the impression of a Dallas skyscraper jutting through the
Now to my way of thinking, the threat of violence in AYLI, is just
enough to keep the story going and hardly enough to be taken seriously;
but not in this production. In an effort to emphasize the difference
between the forest and the court, Duke Frederick=92s investigation into
the disappearance of his daughter and of Orlando takes a very nasty
turn. As Duke Frederick, and in other roles, Brett Porter has a real
gift for being the villain we love to hate; he has ways of making you
talk. As Kelly McGillis completes the third of her cross-dressing
roles, it=92s gotten to the point where she looks odd to me in a dress. =
But as Ganymede, she=92s amusingly in love and seems to manage Rosalind=92=
wit and the confusion of her dilemma with a nice balance. The funniest
part for me was hearing Silvius and Phebe give the text a nice West
In a post-show discussion, I had the opportunity to ask one of the
actors if he felt they were "betraying" the light hearted nature of the
play, with their rather brutal version of the first half? He asked if I
always wanted to see the same play, done the same way? and I guess the
answer is no. On the other hand, if Shakespeare wrote a good "date"
play, this is it, and I pity the poor guy who brought a date to this
production on Valentine=92s day, only to have all thoughts of hearts and
flowers wiped out by intermission. I=92d say, catch the show if you want=
to see a first half that really surprises you, followed by a more
traditional "love-romp" conclusion.
The production gave an emphasized twist to 2 lines, that I had never
even noticed before.
Charles the Wrestler, from the first scene:
"... and never two ladies loved as they do."
and Le Beau referring to Rosalind in the second scene:
"and here detained by her usurping uncle to keep his daughter company,
whose loves are dearer than the natural bond of sisters."
Their delivery suggesting an unnatural lesbian relationship. I thought
it was interesting and sets you up for some of the gender confusion to
follow, but I also thought that it was pounding a square meaning into a
round text, and sounded a little awkward. Has anyone else heard the
lines given that reading before?