If you haven't already got the tickets, don't plan on seeing the Theatre Department's production of
Shakespeare's "As You Like It," as all tickets seem to have been sold out weeks in advance.
FC's major theatre productions have always done* well, but this semester's major production is quite possibly setting new records. With six evening performances planned and sold out early, two more shows were announced last week, and tickets still disappeared at an incredible rate.
Produced by Robert Jensen and directed by Gary Krinke, "As You Like It" well deserves to be sold out, as they lead a very professional cast through a wonderful performance.
The play itself is a romantic comedy, and is filled with good and evil characters making life joyous or miserable. "As You Like It" begins with Orlando (played by Christopher J. Molloy), youngest son of the dead Rowland de Boys, complaining to his elderly servant Adam (played by Tony R. Lucero) of his older brother's jealousy. Oliver (played by Bryan R. Eggert) refuses to teach Orlando anything of worth.
After demanding his inheritance portion (ala the prodigal son) and winning a wrestling match against Charles (played by Feras P. Shilaimon), the court wrestler, Orlando flees to the woods of Arden, fearful for his life, since Duke Frederick (played by Trace J.Larson) disliked his father and now fears the son.
Meanwhile, the audience learns that Duke Frederick is a usurper, and has banished his older brother (the old Duke, played by Don Carlson). The banished Duke's daughter, Rosalind (played by Susana Garcia), has remained at court and is the present Duke's daughter's (Celia, played by Danielle Brown) best friend.
Though she has fallen for Orlando, (and he for her), the Duke begins to fear for his position again, and orders Rosalind to depart on threat of death. Celia cannot contemplate life without her friend's companionship and decides to join Rosalind in searching for her deposed father, hiding in the woods of Arden and living a wondrous Robin Hood-style life.
Fearful of traveling through dangerous woods, Celia decides to dress as a peasant girl, while Rosalind chooses to act the part of a man, claiming Ganymede as her traveling name. (If you think Shakespeare is confusing now; imagine what this play would have been like when the Bard produced it, himself-in Victorian England, women were not allowed on stage and all parts were played by men. Here we would have a man pretending to be a woman pretending to be a man. Sounds like a hit Hollywood movie to me.)
With his daughter and Orlando missing at the same time, the Duke is sure of a connection and orders Oliver to locate his brother and bring him back within a year or never return, himself.
In the woods, Rosalind finds sheets of poetry written for her by Orlando, who has fallen hard, and she decides to play a joke on him. Meeting the young man in her Ganymede guise, she states that he can't really be in love, then convinces him to 'practice' romance on her (as him.)
Meanwhile, to complicate romantic matters, a shepherd girl (Phebe, played by Corby Tushla) falls for Rosalind as Ganymede. Rosalind has no desire for Phebe, of course, and tries to link her with Silvius (a shepherd, played by Aaron W. Meyle), who loves her deeply.
Orlando locates the deposed Duke and tries to steal his food because Adam, his servant, is tired, weary and hungry. The Duke offers freely of what little he has, and de Boys' youngest son joins the Dukes clan. Meanwhile, Oliver continues searching for his brother, but falls asleep under a tree and is attacked by a lion. His brother comes along to save him, and the two put aside their past grievances. ·
Things come to a head when Celia falls for Orlando and a fourth lov~sick couple turn up as well. Rosalind locates her father and decides it's time to link everyone together; As Ganymede, she makes Phebe promise to marry Silvius if she decides against Ganymede for any reason, then vanishes into the forest.
Returning a few minutes later as herself, led by Hymen, the Greek god of marriage, she marries Orlando, Celia is joined with Oliver, Silvius and Phebe tie it up, and Touchstone and Audrey (played by Mark Christian Subias and Kami Danielle Norton) finish off the marriage quartet.
The comedy should continue with a happy announcement that the present Duke had gathered a small, army to destroy the Arden group, but ran into a hermit who led him to religion. He has returned the crown to the rightful Duke and all are now free to return. Unfortunately, I didn't notice this scene within the FC production.
Finished off the evening was an epilogue by Rosalind calling for those in the audience to appreciate her charms and enjoy the play's performance. This little speech was accompanied by a kiss for an FC English Department instructor (who will remain nameless) in the audience (surely he would have enjoyed the show less in the olden all-men days, as well).
The curtain then closed on what had b~en a fine evening of theatre. The performers did a mostly good job, and the scenery and set design were terrific. The players made the most of a small spaceand small mobile sets allowed for quick and tidy set changes.
This is not to say there weren't any problems two little complaints stood out in my mind. First, Adam, Orlando's servant, is supposed to be an old man; a little make-up or perhaps a grey or white wig might have made the point a little clearer to the audience.
Secondly, Shakespeare can be a little difficult to understand, anyway, due to its slightly different language, so enunciation becomes extremely important. Occasionally, dialogue seemed to be mumbled, and some scenes were very difficult to follow.
Still, "As You Like It" was extremely well done, and the theatre.department deserves all the good press that this production will surely earn.