In the midst of Spring Weekend, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre took an audience out of the real world and into a three-hour jaunt through an older time of shepherds and dukes with their opening performance of the Shakespearean comedy “As You Like It.” Friday night in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre, the designs for sets and costumes maintained a feeling of traditionalism, while still managing to put an original spin into the play, which audiences responded well to.
The comedy is rife with song and music, most of which was performed live. The show opened with an original scene performed with Taiko drumming, as male actors depicted deer chasing the female deer around the forest, ultimately fighting amongst themselves, rather than ever catching the does. This set the tone not only for the romantic themes prevalent in the play, but also for the live music that would continue throughout the show.
“I thought it was cool that they had actors playing actual instruments,” eighth semester English and political science student Dan Johnson said as a member of the audience.
A number of songs in the play were sung by the Foresters, a rowdy group of men exiled to the forest, accompanied by guitar and strings played by actors on stage.
The set and costumes were similarly well received. The costumes were colorful and old-fashioned, not unlike something you’d expect to see in “The Princess Bride.” The play largely takes place in the forest, with several scenes in a castle and orchard. Large panels stood on the stage which could be turned different directions to look alternatively like stone pillars or foliage, and later large tree-like structures were lit with soft color-changing orb lights to help depict the forest.
“When they lifted the curtain for the set, it was amazing,” second-semester theater studies student Alex Ose said.
The plot of the play in itself is very typical of what you’d expect of Shakespearean comedy. Brotherly feuds are mixed up with a case of mistaken identity, a woman posing as a man and a number of romantic conflicts. As characters slowly filter into the forest after being either banished from the court or fleeing its danger, they enter a world of peace and happiness. Orlando is in love with Rosalind, who is disguised as a man and using this position to test Orlando’s love. They also run into Phebe, who falls for Rosalind, believing her to be a man, despite Silvius, who trails after Phebe with hopeless adoration. By the end of the play, nobody is left in court, and everybody is in the forest, having a grand old time and getting married. Four weddings tie off the end of the play.
“It was a very fitting Shakespeare ending,” Ose said. “And everything I wanted from the play.”
All the aspects of the show–music, costumes, set, lighting, story–came together to form an unforgettable performance.
“I would say it’s the best CRT show I’ve been to,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t change a single thing.”
Alex Houdeshell is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.