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'As You Like It'


Last updated 8/24/2019 at 2:37pm

With a wink and a smile, Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” kicks off the outdoor-summer season at the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park.

The story goes like this: Duke Senior, played by Cornell Womack, is usurped from power by his brother Frederick, who plays a dual role. Upon Frederick’s decree, Senior is stripped of his title and banished from the ducal court.

The exiled lord enlists his supporters to follow him into the safety of the nearby Forest of Arden.

Fearing no recrimination for her safety, the banished duke departs, leaving Rosalind, played by Meredith Garretson, in the safety of her cousin, Lady Celia, played by Nikki Massoud. Duke Senior does not fear his brother Frederick’s wrath against his niece.

Hoping for privacy, the ladies stroll arm-in-arm throughout the ducal gardens when the handsome Lord Orlando, played by Jon Orsini, crosses their path. Naturally, as all good tales require, Orlando and Lady Rosalind fall in love at first sight.

Set on collecting his overdue inheritance from his tight-fisted older brother Oliver, Orlando heads home.

After all, it is common knowledge that should Orlando desire to entreat the fair Rosalind’s hand, he must line his pockets with chink and not the pittance he earns winning local wrestling matches.

Duke Frederick also comes upon the ladies in the gardens but becomes angered to see his brother’s daughter still in-residence. He commands her to leave at once. His shocked daughter Lady Celia begs her father to reconsider.

Even as Rosalind declares she is not her father’s spy, Frederick is unmoved. In his tyrannical rage he said, “If you outstay the time, upon my honour, and in the greatness of my word, you die.” It is then that Celia foreswears to leave with Rosalind if his edict stands.

Of course, their predicament is exacerbated since ladies cannot go tramping around the countryside unchaperoned.

As a way to prevent discovery, Rosalind’s bright idea is to dress as boys. Celia refuses. Still believing it is the only way to save their reputations, Lady Rosalind disguises herself as a young lord to act as Celia’s protector.

Arriving home, Orlando reminds his brother, the heir, it is past time to distribute the proceeds of their father’s will. Oliver refuses. Their discussion rapidly escalates into an argument which descends quickly into a brawl.

Ending with Orlando being tossed out of his home with only the clothes on his back. Now his chances to court Lady Rosalind are doomed. Orlando packs his broken heart and faithful servant, Adam, as they journey into the Forest of Arden with the other outcasts.

Finally, Orlando’s shattered heart is eased a bit when he starts expressing his feelings on paper. Sheaths and sheaths of paper. The paper is filled with his declarations of his unerring love for Lady Rosalind.

And now his problem is two-fold. First, there isn’t a messenger in the forest to carry love notes to his beloved. Second, even if there were, he doesn’t have the chink to send them. Oh, poor Orlando.

In a final desperate act of appeasement, Orlando beseeches the forest to be his messenger. That is when he posts his poems of unrequited love upon every tree trunk.

Which is why we find one lordling escorting one country miss picking pieces of parchment off the bark whilst wandering through the Forest of Arden in search of a banished father.

And the tale continues into a happy ever after.

That’s pretty much the gist of it.

Perfectly directed. Brilliantly performed. Very enchanting and lyrically romantic.

Every person from the ticket seller, concessionaire, usher, lighting tech, sound person, set designer, to the floor sweeper – oh, and of course the director, Ms. Stone, is to be congratulated for contributing to a splendid evening in the mythical Forest of Arden.

Shakespeare woos audiences by banter, intrigue and misdirection. This is, no doubt, why he remains high in the regard of so many scholars. Shakespeare is a wordsmith to be, or is it “not to be,” envied?

It will add to the enjoyment of the show to research the list of characters and their relationships before attending a performance. Read up on your Shakespeare before going. Google “Cliff Notes,” if time is short.

Next up is “Romeo & Juliet” coming Aug. 11.

Opening July 6, PigPen Theatre Co. presents the World Premier Musical of “The Tale of Despereaux.” It is about a courageous mouse who dreams of becoming a knight. Confirm the free parking shuttle is running on weekends.

All outdoor performances start at 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Bring a blanket and seat cushion. They are there to rent should you forget.

By the way, it is worth $14 to buy prepaid parking. Not only is it close, it may be safer, and a round-trip shuttle is available if needed. Double check parking availability and buy show tickets accordingly.

Visit or the box office is open noon to showtime each Tuesday – Sunday, call (619) 234-5623.

This show is rated a solid 10.

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal can be reached at [email protected]


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