All the World Is a Stage

As You Like It, by William Shakespeare, produced by
Shakespeare Santa Barbara. At Fess Parker’s Winery, Saturday,
August 12. Shows at the winery August 19 and 20, and at the Casa de
la Guerra Saturday and Sunday, August 26 and 27, and September 2
and 3. All performances at 6 p.m.

Reviewed by Bojana Hill

AYLI-Gwyn-Fawcett-McColl-%28R.jpgSweet are the uses of the wine country
on a summer evening. Seated on the sprawling, sloped lawn of the
Fess Parker Winery, the audience for As You Like It shared space
with actors who transported them into the fairytale world of the
Forest of Arden.

In Arden, the exiled Duke and his loyal supporters find refuge
and solace from the usurping brother Frederick, the new Duke at the
court. Meanwhile, Rosalind and Celia are loving cousins and close
friends, despite their fathers’ fierce sibling rivalry. When
Frederick banishes his niece Rosalind, Celia defies her father by
swearing allegiance to her. Rosalind, disguised as the boy
Ganymede, flees to Arden, along with Touchstone — the “wise
fool” — and Celia, now disguised as Aliena. Thus thrust into an
alien world, they seek adventure and reunion with Rosalind’s
father. In a parallel subplot, the young Orlando, who has endured
abuse by his own greedy brother, also escapes into the forest, only
to find it inhospitable. Still, “sweet are the uses of adversity,”
and soon the exiles will discover liberty and happiness in the
pastoral world, far from the conventions and intrigues of the
corrupt court. The play ends with reunion and reconciliation, and
no less than four couples to wed!

Irwin Appel transforms convincingly from a gentle Duke Senior to
the choleric brother Frederick and is impressive on stage. The
melancholy Jacques is played by Jeff Mills, who recites the famous
“All the world is a stage” monologue soulfully. Gwyn Fawcett McColl
has memorized a great deal for the role of Rosalind/Ganymede, as
she must speak the most lines given to any Shakespearean heroine.
McColl is particularly charming as Ganymede, with whom shepherdess
Phebe falls hopelessly in love. The grassy “stage” was perfect for
the smitten Silvius to chase Phebe into the woods, and for
Touchstone to woo Audrey, even though she is not “poetical.” Jackie
Apodaca, as Celia, exchanged witty repartees with James Donlon, who
was well cast in a physically skilled role of Touchstone. Perhaps a
richer musical interlude and more passionate expressions of love
and longing would have strengthened this otherwise very good
production. The historic Casa de la Guerra courtyard is sure to be
another beautiful setting for the upcoming performances of As You
Like It in the heart of Santa Barbara.


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