Oberlin Summer Theater Festival
The Shakespere feature this year was as you like it. It’s not one of my favorite plays, but they always put together a fine interpretation, no matter what the play. This year is no exception. The play is set in a dystopian future (interestingly enough, it’s not the first time I’ve seen it done this way). The set was simple colums with triangle patterns. it serves to give a nice seventies sci-fi feel to it, and still gives the proper impression when the characters in the forest. Teh flat grays on the costumes help push the sci-fi element, as well as teh evil Duke’s apearances on the large video screen ( the only time we ever see this character).
As we open, we see our hero Orlando preparing for a fight, and before we know it he’s in the middle of a wrestling match. The battle here is extremely well done. Orlando flips and jumps and fights in possibly the best choreographed fight I’ve ever seen in a play. It was exciting and kinetic. The guys who put on the Spider-Man musical could learn a thing or two from these guys!
They play the woods very much as the country. I can get past the cowboy hats and overalls, but I have to admit it’s a little unsettling to hear Shakespeare done in these strange southern accents.
I’m fairly certain The Bard never intended one of his plays to end in a square dance.
The real surprise about this part was the music. The deposed and banished duke lives in the forest with his followers who they describe as living like Robin Hood. in fact, they come off more like hippies, wandering the forest playing folk music. The three piece acoustic band consisted of a guitar, a violin and a bass, which blended perfectly. There was a surprising amount of singing here, and it just fit the setting ideally.
There’s plenty of broad comedy here to augment the subtleties of Shakespeare’s story. Among the hippies in the forest is a lone melancholy beatnick whose antics are balanced against the relatively straight performances of the other foresters. A court jester accompanies Rosaland and his antics are just as fun to watch, particularly during the first act back at court.
The play still runs until the begining of August, so head out and catch this while you still can!