I took the kids to see a student matinee of As You Like It at the American Shakespeare Center. This turned out to be a great move. The audience mostly consisted of high school students. My kids were about as well-behaved as any of them, and I wasn’t self-conscious about their wiggling energy.
One thing I greatly appreciated about the show was an innovative use of the space. I’m always interested in times when directors (or others!) push the proverbial envelope in terms of how to use the space–but still within the constraints of the possibilities of 17th-century technology. I got so excited when I saw how Pigeon Creek changed the use of the stage by putting in a ships-wheel set piece and lots of ropes all over the place in their Tempest, just to name one example. In this case, when the action shifted to the forest, all of the curtains on the upstage wall opened, and behind them were backdrops of tree trunks. It’s totally possible that this was a thing that happened in Shakespeare’s day–we don’t have much evidence about level or type of set dressing (although we do know that set pieces would have been minimal and not changed much). I loved how it was so simple, but it changed how the set felt–it was more open and bright.
Jessika Williams was brilliant as Jaques, funny and wry while also maintaining a melancholy feeling. I’ve seen some Jaques that were too dour to be enjoyable, but Jessika was a delight.
I also loved how they did the section with Hymen, the god of marriage–so often either cut or ellided. She came in, covered in gold, singing, with just a total investment in the magic of this moment. I always tell actors, you can get away with anything if you just commit, and this was a perfect example of that.
The children enjoyed the show a great deal, especially Touchstone (Greg Brostrom). He did some magic tricks, which was a fun take on the foolery.