Sook Yee’s Review of “As You Like It”

Ted Pappas has refashioned Shakespeare masterpiece for today’s audience just in time for Valentine’s Day! Shakespeare’s As You Like It, directed by Ted Pappas, is a modern-day celebration of love, ranging from friendship to lascivious passion. In particular, the anachronisms in this theatre performance bridged the perceptions of love in the Shakespearian times with the modern times.
In addition to the 19th century attire, Pappas’ fusion of modern day mannerisms with the Shakespearian vernacular creates an intriguing way of relaying the play’s dialogue, which is sort of similar to speaking and miming, that made the lay more accessible to toady’s audience. For instance, Celia and Rosalind’s heart to heart conversations and bantering had features of today’s bold emphatic intonation. At some points, one can almost hear the voice of a friend saying something similar to “Oh no you didn’t (insert subject here.)”Also, Duke Frederick’s talk-to-the-hand gesture, which is a fairly recent non-verbal gesture, made it quite clear to the audience that he detested her, so his subsequent decision to exile Rosalind was not surprising. It was quite intriguing to watch the performers’ mannerisms clarify, reinforce, and translate for those who may not understand the dialogue. Hearing the words, observing the body language, and discerning the intonation accentuates certain sentiments, which also shows how open to interpretation theatre performances are and how a performance can emphasize a particular interpretation.
Hence, for the upcoming Valentine’s Day, Pappas has accentuated the scope and fundamental values of love. Audiences witnessed the love in true friendship between Celia and Rosalind, particularly when Celia decided to accompany Rosalind in the latter’s exile. Silvius’ obsessive and undying devotion to Phoebe earned much of the audience’s (and Rosalind’s) sympathy, particularly when the Silvius eagerly consumed Phoebe’s love letter to Ganymede (a.k.a. Rosalind’s male disguise persona) when the latter discarded the letter in disgust. Ultimately, the essence of Valentine’s Day shines through the mutual infatuation that Orlando and Rosalind had for each other. From Orlando, the audience identified with the feeling of butterflies in one’s stomach—that can also somehow clog one’s vocal chords as one tries to speak with the object of their affections. From Rosalind, the audience experienced the feeling of delight upon discovering that one’s infatuation was mutual—especially when one personally finds out by disguising as a member of the opposite gender in order to converse with the person of one’s dreams. As for the lascivious passion, neither Shakespeare nor Pappas approved of Touchstone’s (the jester) prurient love for Audrey (the witless shepherdess) and their precipitous wedding for Jacque refers to the pair by stating, “[H]ere comes a pair of very strange beasts, which in all tongues are called fools.”
Ultimately, Pappas’ modern day rendition of Shakespeare’s As You Like It compels the audience to identify and empathize with the fundamental values of love that have persisted from Shakespeare’s time till today.