Rosalind, daughter of a deposed Duke Senior (Allen McCollough) is finally exiled by her uncle, Duke Frederick (also Allen McCullough) the deposer who reigns in place of his brother. Rosalind, (Lindsay Alexandra Carter) shortly before this, has fallen in love at first sight with Orlando (Lorenzo Roberts), son of a now dead friend of the deposed duke. Orlando, whose life is threatened by his elder brother Oliver (Michael Glenn), winds up fleeing as well. Both Rosalind and Orlando end up in the Forest of Arden where the exiled duke also resides. All these family disputes are related or occur early on in the play and, at the end, there are four marriages and two conversions of evil characters to virtuous ones. In between, there are a number of songs (with music composed by Heather Christian) and, in this production directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, a fair amount of dancing.
The play itself is absurd but fun and the production has many strengths. Tom Story plays the wry, melancholy Jaques, a member of Duke Senior’s court, smoothly and steals the show whenever he appears. Aaron Krohn plays Rosalind’s clown Touchstone very well. Yet there is also a central weakness: Mr. Roberts’ portrayal of Orlando is insipid and is in contrast to the lively portrayal of Rosalind by Ms. Carter. Now since one of the themes of the play is the irrationality of romantic love, you might think this disparity would fit right in. But you would be wrong: the insipidity of this Orlando is simply boring and the squealing infatuation of Rosalind for him is hard to credit. This weakness does not negate the good performances,of course, nor the director’s not uninteresting staging.. Yet the play also drags, though the very last bit–the happy ending of four marriages is handled–is handled effectively. If you have seen a good production before,there is no urgency to see this one. If you haven’t, it is worthwhile for the sake of its Jaques and Touchstone.
“As You Like It” will be performed at the Folger Library in Washington, DC through March 5, 2017.