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CSC’s “As You Like It” has Something for Everyone

Review by Liz Eichler of As You Like It: Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

Sara Clark as Rosalind in “As You Like It’ presented by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, with Geoffrey Warren Barnes II as Orlando, Rosalind’s love.

Sara Clark as Rosalind in “As You Like It’ presented by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, with Geoffrey Warren Barnes II as Orlando, Rosalind’s love.

You’ll hit the “Like” button for Cincinnati Shakespeare’s As You Like It, playing now through December 12, 2015.

A gift for the early holiday season, director Jeremy Dubin sets this classical comedy in Victorian England, perhaps to channel Dickenensian warmth, nevertheless ensuring a fun, frolicking, family night at the theatre. There is something for everyone, ensuring giggles to guffaws. From intellectual wit and wisdom to Snidely Whiplash melodrama and Three Stooges physical humor, your modern family will connect.

This is Sara Clark’s show. She is a strong Rosalind, with great timing, charm and spunk. Her relationship with the talented Miranda McGee as cousin Celia is quite comfortable, sweet and sisterly, and her transformation to the male “Ganymede” made me wonder if she ever played Peter Pan (she should). Geoffrey Warren Barnes II is an earnest Orlando, Rosalind’s love.

The show builds slowly, yet the second act opens hilariously with two big men in a tiny boat, having an excellent adventure. They fish, they smoke, they don’t exhale. (This would be an excellent spin off for a late night series.) Billy Chase is over-the-top yet joyfully silly, as Touchstone the Fool. Jim Hopkins is his straight man, as the shepherd. Justin McCombs and Maggie Lou Rader ham it up as a couple of absurd yokels. Tess Talbot as Audrey and Doug Fries as the Wrestler also provide rich humor, standing out from a very good ensemble.

A layer of richness is added with music (led by the lovely Lindsey Mercer) and a dance to the Greek goddess of weddings… and other things.

This is the first CSC production where I noticed the stage appeared crowded and heavy. I never fully felt transported from rigid court to magical forest, save the delightful ending tableau. I can only imagine how excited the Company is to have a new space on the drawing board. Support their dream by buying tickets to AS YOU LIKE IT at www.cincyshakes.com.