The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2388 Wednesday, 17 December 2003
From: Richard Burt <
Date: Tuesday, 16 Dec 2003 16:41:50 -0500
Subject: 'As You Like It': Actress Finds Shadows in Shakespearean Spunk
Theater Review | 'As You Like It': Actress Finds Shadows in
December 15, 2003
By BEN BRANTLEY
BOSTON, Dec. 10 - The Forest of Arden has never looked more wintry, but
the news coming out of there these days has the hope of springtime:
Rosalind has been reborn. As portrayed by Rebecca Hall, a young British
actress of glistening freshness and uncanny intuition, Shakespeare's
cockiest heroine is no longer the clever, charming and intrepid lass who
rules the men of "As You Like It" by dressing as one of them.
Oh, she's still clever and charming and all that. But as Ms. Hall
embodies her in the Theater Royal Bath's touring production, now at the
Wilbur Theater here through Dec. 21, Rosalind is also awkward, angry and
afraid. Shakespeare's blithe magician of matchmaking has become a wary,
vulnerable wanderer through an age of suspicion, a time ruled by cruelty
and caprice. And anyone whose heart doesn't embrace this uncertain,
gorgeous, galumphing girl probably doesn't have one.
Shadows have always streaked the sunlight of Shakespeare's sylvan comedy
of love in disguise, but I have never seen them elicited as affectingly
as they are in this interpretation, directed by Peter Hall, Ms. Hall's
father. Though Sir Peter has been a dominant force in the British
theater for five decades and taken on most of the Shakespearean canon,
this is his first attempt at "As You Like It."
He brings to the play the sobering sense of a lion in winter who has
known betrayal as well as blandishments and who has discovered how time
can strip a soul of comforts. There is plenty of comic exuberance, but
you never lose sight of Rosalind's early observation that the
"working-day world" is "full of briers."
As John Gunter's Depression-era scenic and costume designs suggest,
evoking both fascist tyrants and migrant hobos in hard times, that world
is a place to proceed with caution. Watching this Rosalind make her way
through the woods takes on a new level of emotional intensity.
. . .
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