As You Like It at BAM

Let’s leap quickly over the fact that a burst pipe at daycare means that my writing day is, instead, a day spent running errands and watching Dora with my beloved toddler, and return to the Forest of Arden.

As I told my friend who’d seen it already, it takes me some time to move beyond the sheer joy of having gotten out of the house, the incredible pleasure of being out. Having said that, then, I took it as a challenge to think through what I liked and didn’t about this production. I always say this is my favorite play of Shakespeare’s: it’s one of the ones that has the happiest associations for me. Mostly, I just love Rosalind. But this production was good enough to leave AYLI unchallenged for the official favorite spot.

I loved seeing it at BAM Harvey—the climb up to the balcony was incredibly steep and thrilling. Plus, what a treat to be at a production full of people from 20 to 50 instead of the usual crew of dowagers and pensioners! So many young people were there. Hurrah! At first, I didn’t like Rebecca Hall’s slow Rosalind—I always imagine her as athletic, leaping—but she grew on me. Certainly, she and Orlando did the thing that really matters in a comedy: they persuaded me that they fell in love at first sight. In the end, I decided that I liked this smart, self-absorbed, gawky Rosalind. I really liked the sarcastic and impatient Celia; Rebecca Callard made the second banana role interesting.

I adored that the opening scenes in Arden were in the dead of winter. It was 3 degrees outside last Thursday night and it wasn’t a sufficient break, but it was so right: “Heigh ho! The holly!” made sense as a song. And, it makes the heroism of the exiled Duke all the more potent: suddenly this play seemed truly a prelude to those lovely ambiguous late romances. And how lovely to return from intermission and find it had turned spring! Everything all grass green and golden. (Alas, that didn’t work on the weather outside the theater.)

I still don’t understand the proliferation of clowns and fools—Jacques, Touchstone, Corin, William—it goes on and on. All were played well and with great clarity here, though, so it didn’t seem quite as excessive as it can.

I could say more but let’s stop with this: it’s an old trick, but I still find having Rosalind deliver the epilogue as a penitent, with houselights up, incredibly moving. It brought tears to my eyes.