THEATER REVIEW by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS

Outdoor performances of Shakespeare continue through the Summer in Olympia with Goldfinch Productions’ As You Like It, featuring performances at LBA Park and Sunrise Park after an opening performance in City Park, Yelm.

As You Like It is a smart and thoughtful, romantic comedy — the kind one would think about and say, “That’s really funny,” rather than the falling-down-laugh-out-loud comedy of one of the bard’s more farcical comedies.

The play is set in France, and the forest is compared to the home of Robin Hood and his band of merry men. In this version, the forest dwellers sound like Tennessee hillbillies. Exiled from her uncle’s court, Rosalind travels to the forest disguised as a man with her cousin Celia (Laura Miller). Orlando, who fell in love with Rosalind at first sight, also goes to Arden Forest, where nearly everyone falls in love with someone, all at first sight.

Rosalind (Amanda Kemp) and Orlando (Jalen Penn) are funny and likeable. Kemp expresses multiple emotions both physically and verbally, and all fitting to the character she portrays. Orlando is fiercely passionate both in love and in the comic battle with Charles the wrestler (Joe Shay).

Andrea Weston-Smart as Jacques is melancholy and sensitive and is convincingly earnest in her delivery of the famous “All the world’s a stage” speech. Touchstone (Jodie Chapin) is over-the-top funny.

Put all the actors together in the Forest of Arden with a superb supporting cast, and the result is a wonderful two hours of entertainment.

This is a typical Shakespearean comedy, meaning there is intentional confusion — identity, gender and otherwise — but everything works out to (almost) everyone’s satisfaction.

Ably directed by Kevin McManus, this is the first of what is planned to be many outdoor Shakespeare plays by Goldfinch Productions. From Yelm it moves to performances in Olympia at LBA Park and Sunrise Park. Come prepared for weather and bring a blanket or folding chair to sit on.

WHAT

As You Like It

WHEN

7 p.m. LBA Park, July 5-7;

7 p.m. Sunrise Park, July 11-14

WHERE

LBA Park 3333 Morse-Merryman, Olympia;

Sunrise Park, 505 Bing, Olympia

HOW MUCH

Free (donations encouraged)

LEARN MORE

GoldfinchProductions.com

360-999-0412