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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
AS YOU LIKE IT
at Shakespeare & Company (Lenox, Massachusetts)

SWEET LOVERS LOVE THE SPRING
By SANDY MACDONALD

  Merritt Janson and Tony Roach/ Ph: Kevin Sprague

Even if you weren’t able to wangle your way into any of the RSC productions at the Armory, you still have a chance to see some stellar Shakespeare (the home-grown variety) this summer, if you’re willing to travel a bit. Among the plays that Shakespeare & Company has been running in repertory in Lenox, Massachusetts, is a thoroughly charming As You Like It, starring the strapping Kelly Curran as Celia (a role typically reserved for petite blondes) and subtle, delicate Merritt Janson as the androgynous Rosalind. The seeming imbalance actually ups the play's comic potential, already high to begin with.
 
Jonathan Epstein (noted for his marketably sonorous voice) takes it agreeably easy as Touchstone, the fool who accompanies the young cousins deep into the forest of Arden. And the world-weary Jaques, whom they encounter there, is not the typical mopey middle-aged man, but a rather sharp-looking, sardonic woman (Tod Randolph), her fedora set at a rakish angle: She’s Fran Lebowitz in exile. Of course, the happiest surprise, where the banished Rosalind is concerned, is her (re)discovery of the hunky young wrestler Orlando (Tony Roach fills the role admirably), whom she undertakes to school in the ways of courtship.
 
In truth, everyone is exemplary, including Josh Aaron McCabe as Orlando’s murderously envious elder brother, Oliver, and Malcolm Ingram as Adam, the boy’s frail and ancient but ever-game servant. Adam is meant to move you near tears (and does), bringing to mind those elders, long gone, who aided your own quest to find a place in the world.
 
Director Tony Simotes’ staging is simplicity itself, as is Sandra Goldmark’s set design, which consists of miniaturized Paris landmarks (e.g., Arc du Triomphe, Notre Dame) serving as mobile benches, rocks, etc. Paris in spring – the apotheosis of headlong young love – is the theme that infuses the show: You can practically smell the lilacs.

 


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