Old comedy receives new life in ‘As You Like It’

Shakespeare can often be thought of as dry and confusing, but the UAA presentation of “As You Like It” will be anything but. The cast is a colorful array of all students, and their recitation of the lines makes it surprisingly understandable to the average student.

“As You Like It” will be presented unabridged from the original Shakespeare dialect, with the only difference being that the two dukes will be changed to queens so as to employ a cast of only UAA students.

The cast is animated, refreshing, and hilarious through their own innovation and through help from their director, Tom Skore, who has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with the students.

“They’re fun; they’re mature. A lot of times when you see this play a lot of roles will be doubled, like the dukes will be doubled. You can do that and I actually considered that to cut it down. But from an audience point of view, if you’ve got people who are willing to invest the time that needs to be invested but then only be on [the stage] for two pages- from an audience point of view, if people are willing to do that then the play becomes very rich because then there’s all these kinds of people,” Skore said, thinking about the cast and the involvement they’ve had in the play.

Indeed, it is a full cast of 27 characters and over 20 people filling the roles, double casting being a rarity. The students yell and laugh and expertly navigate through a whole variety of expressions and emotions that play across their character’s face in a believable manner.

To put it simply, the quality of acting is animated and engaging. Audience members will find themselves sucked into the play, laughing at the utter ridiculous circumstances “As You Like It” brings to the stage.

The brief overview of the plot involves a band of outcast nobles under the leader of a queen (originally a duke) who are living in exile in the Ardennes forest. Noblewoman Rosalind (played by Julie-Joy Voss) finds herself running off to join them with her cousin Celia (Sarah Shoemaker).

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But Rosalind must go in the disguise of a young man with only her cousin knowing the truth. Things get complicated, and hysterical, when the man she has fallen in love with at first sight, Orlando (Bradford Jackson), comes to the forest with his aged servant and begins littering the trees with love poems about his dearest Rosalind.

The play is wacky and is timelessly comical, and the plot gets much more twisted and amusing as the play goes on.

“The one reason why I love acting in Shakespeare is that the language is like listening to a symphony. And that’s what really comes out and that’s what I feel touches the audience; it’s completely the language,” Bradford Jackson, a UAA student playing the lead role of Orlando, said.

The language certainly does add a more refined element, and the actors have been juggling the words about for their best effect over and over, trying to make them sound more enchanting and less like a confusing maze of old English.

Tom Skore teaches upper division acting classes which involve speaking and pronunciation, has been adamant about his cast speaking in the proper dialect, making sure their language is not too rushed or slow and his repeated requests to “take out the pauses” have made the entire script run smoothly.

“Working under Tom has been one of the greatest [experiences] I’ve ever had in a play. It has been one of the greatest productions I’ve been in,” Jackson said.

The play opens Friday, Oct. 10 and will run for the next three weekends. Theatergoers will find the performance in Room 220 of the Fine Arts Building.