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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at Brooklyn Academy of Music(The Harvey Theatre)


  Anthony O'Donnell, Thomas Sadoski, Juliet Rylance/ Ph: Joan Marcus

How are things in the Forest of Arden? In the Bridge Project rendition at BAM, not so pastoral. Designer Tom Piper has it set up like a brick-walled terrarium, sacrificing any sense of Eden-like freedom. And there are so many people moping about – the resemblance of the camp to a Hooverville is no accident – that it’s hard to tell the Jaques (a seemingly sanguine Stephen Dillane) from the various Jacks and Jills.
It falls to luminous Juliet Rylance alone, as Rosalind, to remind us of the buoyancy and ingenuity that rise to meet the challenges of young love. As Orlando, Christian Camargo appears so blandly morose that it’s hard to remember that, whatever his circumstances, this is a young man bursting with vitality (his main advantage over the Wrestler, played with malevolent relish by Ron Cephas Jones) and impelled by the need to prove himself. Camargo’s Orlando seems motivated primarily by a peevish desire to prove he was wronged – as indeed he was, by his elder brother, Oliver (a gleefully evil Edward Bennett).
Director Sam Mendes’ decision to portray Oliver as a “suit” typifies the lack of imagination that dogs this somber production. Do we really need allusions to waterboarding and Abu Ghraib to telegraph “contemporary resonance?” Ceding to such topical temptation means jettisoning the play’s own tonal integrity. Speaking of which, the “bridge” aspect of this trans-Atlantic endeavor is quite admirable, but couldn’t the American actors make some small effort to Anglicize their diction? The disjunction is distracting.
To be sure, there are some lovely moments to be savored here. The closing scene, for instance, with its multiple weddings, borrows its lush lantern-light from John Singer Sargeant’s “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.” However, it takes a long, predominantly punitive slog to reach this sylvan idyll. We can be thankful that Rylance, at least, carries her own light amid the depressive murk.


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