Review of “The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It” at Owens Community CollegeWritten by Chad Meredith | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In “The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It,” a quirky cast of characters performs William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” to an “imaginary audience.” Since the play calls for thirty-three different parts, and there are only seven actors, the Curate (Bill Toth) has the actors play many different roles. This play is more about the characters’ antics than their attempt at “As You Like It.” As soon as the play began, the actors induced chortles from the audience. As Rosalind, the stage director, the chorus, and a deer, Sarah Wurzinger was riotous.
When Celia (Alisha Bond) asked the Curate how the ensemble would do the show since Rosalind was crazy, Wurzinger smiled and nodded in agreement. Wurzinger’s acknowledgement of being “off her rocker” made the audience guffaw in amusement. When Wurtzinger smiled and waved to the “imaginary audience,” the actual audience could see that Rosalind was as kooky as she seemed. When the stage director told the audience that Celia and Rosalind meet to discuss “life, love and professional wrestling!” Wurtzinger’s theatrical pronunciations and gestures sent the audience rollicking with laughter. When the stage director asked the audience “Did that scene seem irrelevant to you?” Wurtzinger’s upbeat tone had the audience falling off their seats. As Celia, Alisha Bond was hysterical.
When Celia was literally dragged by the Curate to be in the production, the way Bond cried “I want to go home!” made the audience chortle. Once well into “As You Like It,” Celia would put on a huge brown wig to play “Phoebe.” The transition from Celia to Phoebe was instantaneous. As Phoebe, Bond would speak with a strong southern accent. This southern accent was comical to hear in Shakespearean dialogue. While wearing this wig, Bond would theatrically wink and smile at Audrey (Lydia Clark). Bond’s flirtatious depiction of Phoebe made the audience cackle hysterically. As the clown, John Toth was also risible.
While the other actors began performing the play, the clown played “Wipe Out” on an acoustic guitar. Toth’s grin at their annoyance quickly made the clown a lovable character. As a wrestler who fights against Orlando (Jon Masters), Toth spoke in a deep voice to imitate professional wrestlers. When Toth loudly screamed “This is Shakespeare!” in one of his wrestling moves, he sent the audience aching with laughter. When the clown asked nearby characters “do you believe this?” upon seeing Oliver (Nathan Aschliman) profess his love for Aliena (Alsiha Bond), Toth’s sarcastic tone sent the audience howling. The technical elements were also executed well.
The setting was an empty stage with three chests of props and outfits in them. The props included a large brown wig, a wrestler’s mask and belt, among other items. There were tall movable trees, which were used for the forest of Arden. At the beginning of the second act, orchestra music played. This music was comically ironic, since it would normally be heard at a professional or well-prepared production of “As You Like It,” and the characters’ production was neither. A red spotlight was put on Amiens (Nathan Aschliman) when he attempted Jaques’ “All the world’s a stage” monologue. This red light symbolized the pressure the actor who gives this monologue unavoidably experiences.
While this play is farcical, it has a poignant message.
“The Curate Shakespeare As You Like It” is about characters who are struggling to memorize their lines, have serious flaws, and are wondering about who they are. In other words, they are just like us. Each of us has “lines” we are struggling to understand, and each person has a role to play in the world. This play marked Jeremy Meier’s directorial debut at Owens Community College. If this production is any indication of future student productions at Owens Community College, the college’s theatre department has a bright future.