Shakespeare: Southern Style
Arguably one of Shakespeare’s finer comedies, quirky and quick-witted, “As You Like It,” delivers hope and laughter to audience members both young and old.
Performed by the Nashville Shakespeare Festival and the NSF Apprentice Company in the 26th annual Shakespeare in the Park series, “As You Like It” is the perfect comedy for every brand of humor.
Artistic director Denise Hicks sets this rendition of the Shakespearean comedy in Depression-era America in the 1930s, replacing the court and forest scenes with a corrupt town and a peaceful tent city.
This original expression of the classist undertones and satirical voice of the play works brilliantly to present a new aspect of the comedy.
Complete with Americana music to break up the scene changes and a fully involved cast that interacts extensively with the audience, “As You Like It” is comic gold for every age.
This performance is relatable on many levels due to its creative, hodge-podge cast consisting of men and women with varying ages and levels of theater experience.
The play follows the pattern of many Shakespearean comedies with many plotlines, misplaced love triangles and gender-swapping roles.
At the forefront of the plot, a young woman named Rosalind, whose father has been exiled, is suddenly banished from her uncle’s court for fear that she will usurp him in her father’s name.
Along with her cousin, Rosalind dons a male persona and flees to her father’s camp in the forest, but not before she has fallen hopelessly in love with a young man, Orlando. He is soon exiled to the forest as well, and the two lovers cross paths again, only now they meet man to man.
Orlando professes his love for Rosalind to the young man he takes to be a peer and hilarity ensues.
With mistaken identity and several degrees of gender-bent flirting, the audience is kept alert and intrigued from opening line to epilogue.
Though each cast member puts on a magnificent performance to create a fantastic show, Emily Landham, portraying the lead character, stood out as incredible. She perfectly presented the complex character of Rosalind with wonderful technique.
Landham fully embodied the role and presented herself as a man with startling perfection, even embracing the distinct swagger of a cocksure youth and lowering her voice a full octave. Her wild movements and energetic portrayal of the character gave a much needed fresh perspective on the many monologues of the role.
“As You Like It” will be performed in Centennial Park Thursday through Sunday for two more weekends. The final production will be Sunday, Sept. 14.
Attendance is free, but a $10 donation to the NSF is suggested.
This article was written by Nikki Sneed.