A lot of people will probably choose to put their theater dollars in other places than the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program's production of William Shakespeare's "As You Like It," and this will be their loss. The experience of watching Shakespeare is always improved by the combination of close seating (Zeum is a terrific space to watch anything) and youthful exuberance.
Gregory Wallace as Jaques, and Anthony Fusco as Touchstone, come from the A.C.T. core acting company and they both add a dimension of maturity and craft to the cast. Max Rosenak could not be a better Orlando and Ashley Wickett is an equally good Rosalind, while Rosalind's cousin Celia (Marisa Duchowny) often steals the show with her animation and good cheer.
This is Shakespeare, after all, so we can't hardly critique the writing -- but Act Two is complicated and plays long. Go tell it to the Bard. Meanwhile, enjoy Callie Floor's terrific costumes and Liliana Duque-Pineiro's innovative set which makes Arden Forest look a little like the floor of a gymnasium, with trees.
RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "As You Like It" Three Stars. It's a production you will enjoy with a nice mix of old and new. And you get Gregory Wallace saying:
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."
One question you may not be able to answer: Tickets are $20.50. Wouldn't twenty bucks be easier?
"As You Like It"
Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco
Through May 28