Monday, March 11, 2019

As You Like It—Oregon Shakespeare Festival—Ashland, OR


“Send in the Clowns…”

This classic comedy from Shakespeare is directed by Rosa Joshi.  It is playing at the Bowmer Theatre, in repertory, through October 26th,  For more information, go to their site at www.osfashland.org or call 1-800-219-8161.

Remember when you were a kid—the circus?  I mean a real circus, with the Big Top, Trapeze artists, lions & tigers and elephants, and those pesky clowns.  I always marveled, as a child, at that little car traveling around the center ring, then stopping, and out of it “a thousand clowns” would emerge, of all colors, shapes and sizes.  Now, how did all those clowns fit into that little car?!

Then picture, if you will, our finite bodies, and all the varying “clowns” within.  You see, we are a different personality (“clown”) with our family, our close friends, our co-workers, a loved one and our acquaintances.  And so, as we enter different aspects of our lives, we discover that, indeed, “all the world’s a stage” and we, merely players upon it, as the Bard has suggested.  And so, I believe, we must make the most of our fragile time upon the “boards.”  And, on that note, let the games begin….
Common elements arise in most of the Bard’s comedies:  gender-switching, love manipulations, estranged relatives, wise clowns/fools/servants, caste systems, conflicts of purpose and redemption.  And, in the end, “every Jack must have his Jill (and vice versa),” and so it is here, too.

The plot centers around a disposed Duke (Rachel Crowl) and her melancholy companion, Jacques (Erica Sullivan), by her villainous brother, Fredrick (Kevin Kenerly), and Orlando’s conniving brother, Oliver (Shaun Taylor-Corbett), as well as the deposed brother of royalty, Orlando (Román Zaragoza) and his faithful servant, Adam (Tyrone Wilson), as well as Rosalind (Jessica Ko) and her cousin, Cecil (Kate Hurster), as well as their servant, the Fool, Touchstone (Rex Young), all threats to the throne, in one way or another, and so end up in the Forest of Arden in France, an Edenistic sort of encampment.  Whew!

Wait, there’s more.  Also, some shepherds share the forest with this band of misfits.  There is Sylvius (MacGregor Arney) and Corin (Caroline Shaffer), watching their flocks and inhaling some of the local merriment, also.  Of course, there are also a couple of shepherdesses, one of which, Audrey (Will Wilhelm), garners the interest of Touchstone, and the other herder, Phoebe (Lilia Houshmand), falls for Gannymede (forgot to tell you, Rosalind has disguised herself as this man so that she/he can investigate the wooing methods of Orlando).  Although the plot is obviously complicated, the fun is following the various factions throughout the story.  Can’t tell you who will end up with whom but, after all, it is a comedy.

One of the highlights of the show is the introduction of about a half dozen songs (composer, Palmer Hefferan) by the merry band of followers of the banished Duke.  They are quite entertaining and add to the fun of the production.  (A personal note, I disagree with the choice to place Jacques famous monologue at the curtain call, as it is originally meant as a contradiction to his speech as, afterwards, a compassionate Orlando carries the ailing Adam into the forest—this interpretation from Dr. Bowmer himself).

Joshi has kept the show moving at a brisk pace and, despite the confusing plot, she does manage to keep things straight.  The cast, all very talented as actors and singers, present a rousing production.  I recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

Ashland Springs Hotel
I always mange to stay at this hotel (downtown, 212 E. Main St.), or it’s sister, Ashland Hills, (about 3 miles South of downtown), every time I come here to review shows (twice a year).  They have an amazingly healthy breakfast buffet (that is include in your stay).  It consists of hot and cold cereals, red potatoes, scrambled eggs, fruit, muffins & toast, coffee & tea & juices, et. al.  Also, it has secured parking (next door to OSF), comfortable rooms and a very friendly and efficient wait staff.  And the price is very reasonable, too.  For more information, go to their site at www.ashlandspringshotel.com or call 1-888-795-4545.

I highly recommend this, or the Hills location, for your stay.  If you do choose to stay here, please tell them Dennis sent you.


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