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Paulanne Simmons

There's a Lot to Like in "As You Like It"

"As You Like It," presnted by thedrillingcompany. Photo by Fred Marco.

"As You Like It"
Presented by thedrillingcompaNY
Directed by Jesse Ontiveros
Municipal Parking Lot
85 Ludlow St. between Broome and Delancey streets
Opened July 27, 2006
Thurs. thru Sat. 8 p.m.
Free, thru Aug. 12, 2006
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Aug. 4, 2006

ThedrillingCompaNY's latest Shakespeare in the Parking Lot presentation, "As You Like It," may not have the costumes, lighting and setting seen in Central Park and the Brooklyn Academy of Music not too long ago, but it may be one of the most original and at the same time faithful interpretations of the Bard you'll ever see.

The credit for this tour de force is shared by director Jesse Ontiveros, who made all the right decisions; Dan Barnhill, who composed the wonderful parodies of Bob Dylan, the Beatles and others; and the exceptional cast.

Most outstanding, partly because of her central role and partly due to sheer talent, is Dana Slamp, who plays Rosalind, the young lady who disguises herself as a young man wearing a baseball cap and carrying a bat, flees to the forest of Arden with her cousin, Celia (the excellent Elizabeth Schmidt), is wooed by the banished Orlando (Max Hambleton), and dispenses useful advice to the lovelorn shepherd, Silvius (the perfectly pitiful Neil Shah) and the unwilling object of his affections, Phebe (the petite pouter, Maria McConville).

Slamp gives Rosalind a deft mixture of the rogue, the vixen and the sage. One can almost see Shakespeare smiling in appreciation.

Among the supporting cast, Hamilton Clancy's "All the world's a stage" shines with gentle humor and pedantic wisdom, and Richard Mover successfully turns Touchtone, the court jester, into a wily rogue who might have been a prosperous bootlegger during prohibition.

A pastoral comedy in the vein of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "As You like It" is just right for an outdoor summer performance. In the municipal parking lot on Ludlow Street, surrounded by the sounds of cars, buses and garbage trucks, as well as pedestrians passing by, with the parking lot lights going on as the sun sets and the moon rises, it's easy to remember that 400 years ago Shakespeare delivered his wit and wisdom to a London audience composed of a few royals and a whole lot of commoners.

With its mixture of cynicism, romance and idealism, "As You Like It" is both one of Shakespeare's most typical and most modern works. thedrillingcompaNY brings "As You Like It" into the 21st century by enhancing, and certainly never betraying, Shakespeare's good sense and good humor.


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