With musical numbers and dancing pandas, Sock & Buskin's production of "As You Like It" is a fun and quirky adaptation of Shakespeare's classic that is modern, young and unique. The play, directed by Nicholas Ridout in collaboration with the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, is the group's fourth show this season.
The cast members obviously enjoy themselves, charging the play with an infectious playfulness that lets the audience in on the fun. "It was one of the most fun experiences I've had," said Mariagrazia LaFauci '12, who played Phebe.
Modern popular music can be heard throughout, putting a modern twist on the classic play. A wrestling match between Orlando and Charles becomes a dance battle set to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger."
The dialogue remained faithful to the original play, but Ridout included a colloquial twist that made it easier to understand. The banter between the characters, particularly between Rosalind and Celia, was youthful and humorous.
Ridout opted for a simplistic set in the first act — wooden fold-out chairs and a table. But once the characters arrived in the Forest of Arden, the set changed to an enormous red ramp with a red bridge over it, both of which were crafted specifically for the play. Although green and blue lights on the ceiling mimicked foliage, the stage ultimately failed to look at all like a forest.
Ridout said he was trying to emphasize "theaterness" of the production. "The colors and shapes used for the set emphasize the perspective of the theater," he said. He wanted to explore and highlight the idea of "a play within a play." "In a way, the Forest of Arden is a theater," he said.
He included mixed media for similar reasons. During the transition to the Forest of Arden, he showed a mute video that the artists had made beforehand. They recited lines while facing the screen, narrating the video's plot. With this technique, Ridout said he wanted to highlight the role of the text to the words themselves. Throughout the production, Ridout did not want the audience to forget that they were watching a play — one reason why the actors read from their scripts at the beginning of the play.
These were "experiments that contain a certain amount of risk," he said. "But the audience seemed happy to go with them."
A number of audience members were confused by certain elements of the play, but enjoyed it nonetheless. "I had a lot of fun. I didn't totally understand all the choices the director made, but I found it entertaining and that's all I cared about," said Leandro Zaneti '12.
"As You Like It" will run in Stuart Theater through March 13. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
This play aimed to entertain its audience and make them laugh, and it succeeded. It was a creative and unique interpretation of Shakespeare.