As You Like It | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

As You Like It 

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As You Like It, First Folio Shakespeare Festival, at the Peabody Estate at Mayslake. The Forest of Arden has never felt more authentic than in First Folio's outdoor staging, accompanied by the tunes of cicadas and crickets. In Shakespeare's delightful comedy, Rosalind (Ann Noble Massey) is exiled to the forest after she falls in love with Orlando (Joe Lehman), the son of the best friend of her father (Neil Friedman), a duke who's also banished. The tangled love story that follows remarks gently on the human condition and includes cross-dressing, a wrestling match, an attack by a snake, a religious conversion, misguided love, and general misdirection, all of which ends in multiple marriages.

Under Alison C. Vesely's direction, this is a light, undemanding production that moves from lackluster to lively in just over three hours. Most of the brightness comes from Massey as Rosalind and Kelly Anne Clark as her cousin Celia. This Rosalind is not commanding or subtle but flighty and buzzing with gossip; she and Celia, a coconspirator, have a jaunty teenage chemistry, flinging themselves from lovelorn squeals one minute to impulsive but convoluted plans the next. Somehow the flaws in Shakespeare's plot--why doesn't Rosalind, disguised as a boy, simply tell Orlando that she's his love?--make perfect sense when the folks in control are the love-struck young people.

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