Elegant prose and rhyming rang through Newhart Family Theatre Oct. 19.
The Cast of ‘As You Like It’ Offer Sensational Shakespeare
Elegant prose and rhyming rang through Newhart Family Theatre Oct. 19. Loyola’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts performed an enchanting rendition of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” where a rivalry leads to a chaotic romance in the forest.
Rosalind’s father, Duke Senior, has been exiled by her uncle, Duke Frederick, on accusations of treason, only keeping her around for the sake of his daughter Celia.
A brotherly rival brings Orlando into Rosalind’s life and the pair instantaneously fall for each other.
When Rosalind is banished to The Forest of Arden, Celia follows suit. Disguised as a man to detract attention, Rosalind reunites with Oliver and uses her costume to persuade him into falling in love with her.
Newhart Family Theatre’s circular stage attempted to immerse viewers into the setting of The Forest of Arden with the audience surrounding the stage. Starting with only two props on stage, the cast maneuvered their way around a wooden bench and a metal, leafless tree.
The elegant costumes from the first segment compensated for the lack of props. Complete with frilly, pleated ruffles, the outfits were extravagant in nature and immersed viewers into the Elizabethan era.
Second-year Molly Livesay delivered a humorous and eloquent performance of Rosalind. Despite being on stage for a majority of the play, Livesay didn’t show signs of wear and seemed to complete her role with ease.
Livesay seamlessly transitioned portrayals of Rosalind through vocal tone and comportment.
On a few occasions the audience wasn’t able to fully digest jokes before the next line was spoken. Though, fourth-year Elizabeth Avery cued audiences into the humor, playing the role of Jaques, a member of Rosalind’s father’s troupe, Avery’s eye contact with the audience broke the fourth wall, as if to cue them into the humor.
Jaques’ role doesn’t seem necessary to the overall plot, but his melancholic demeanor added humor to the show.
“‘Tis a Greek invocation to call fools into a circle,” Jaques says looking to the audience before continuing to the next line.
Actors walking through the sides stayed in character the entire way through — even as most of the audience was focused on the stage.
For a majority of the play, the dressing of the set was only a large, rocky bridge. The piece was useful for characters to hide from others, but it was hard to tell if the characters were traveling through the forest or in a stationary setting. The set was underdeveloped and relied on the audience to fill in gaps.
“As You Like It” had the potential to be a groundbreaking play for Loyola’s theater department. The limited set design and haphazard nature of Shakespere’s playwriting wasn’t enough to provide an experience equal to a show at Shakespeare’s Globe.
Despite a shaky set display, many students delivered standout performances. Aimee Jaske’s performance of Celia, Rosalind’s beloved cousin, was ravishing. Despite having fewer lines compared to Rosalind, second-year Jaske’s innocent facials produced giggles from attentive audience members.
Only together at the play’s beginning and end, Brian Provenzano and Patrick Januario skillfully portrayed brotherly hate as Oliver and Orlando, respectively. Overall, their performance was memorable in their charming demeanor — even if they only shared a few lines.
Tying together plotlines in a loose bow, the ending of the Shakespearean play was confusing at best. Four couples, three of which didn’t get enough development, synthesized into a group marriage.
Hymen, the god of marriage, randomly made an appearance through Jasmine Luethy who, through no fault of her own, was poorly introduced. Without referring to the show’s program, audience members wouldn’t know who the character is.
Silvius and Phebe were questionable in their relationship. While on stage, the two were only depicted in a chase-and-catch dynamic. Silvius, played by Dean Morgan, pined after Phebe unrelentingly. “As You Like It” would have benefited from a rewrite to allow Phebe to be on her own rather than resorting to Silvius.
Despite a slight costume difficulty of a faulty hat, Kyra Tatge executed her role unblemished. Tatge, whose character was chasing after Rosalind masquerading as a man, was enamoring and delightful.
Rosalind returned to the stage after the full cast completed the closing song. Speaking directly to the audience for the epilogue, Livesay magnificently closed the show.
“I charge you, oh women, for the love you bear to men, to like as much as this play as please you,” Rosalind said.
“As You Like It” will continue to run from Oct. 27 to 29. Tickets are available for purchase on Loyola’s Fine and Performing Arts website.
Featured image courtesy of Joe Mazza