Oh the drama: “As You Like It” at Texas State

One of the ironies of my life is that I am not much of a theater-goer and one of my dearest friends in the world is a professor of dramatic studies and writes and directs theater productions.

But when she asked if someone would like to see William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, presented by the Texas State University Department of Theater and Dance, I offered to go because a) she’s my friend, b) I like Shakespeare and c) I need to get out more and find culture.

Really, I do.

We went to a Sunday performance, and Jenny set me up for it by telling me that the Texas State productions have been really good this season.

Because I am absolutely terrible at trying to encapsulate the main points of any Shakespeare play, if you want to know more about what As You Like It is about, read this.

This production, directed by Chuck Ney, had some unexpected elements for me.  It was set in contemporary times, so the costumes weren’t your typical Shakespearean garb, but the players actually said what Shakespeare wrote.  So it wasn’t trying to be campy by modernizing the play completely, yet the setting and costumes helped me connect with the characters because I feel like I understood them better.

Also, one of the players also composed music that was played by the characters and served as a transitional element.  The director said music was common in Shakespeare’s plays (which I didn’t know), and As You Like It is among the works that uses it the most.  Many directors cut it, but they didn’t in this one.  In fact, it was modern and upbeat, and it blended beautifully into the production.

Admittedly, I spent the first 30 minutes trying desperately to listen and figure out what was going on.  I was trying to figure out who everyone was and what they were saying, but eventually I got in the groove and it was easier to understand.

What helped me the most was the players’ use of what Jenny called “the business.”  It’s the stuff that isn’t said — the looks, the gestures — and it made the play freakin’ HILARIOUS.  The actress who played Celia was particularly gifted with her looks and gestures, and there is an entire scene with a scarf that made me laugh out loud.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this play.

You still have a chance to check it out.  As You Like It is at the Mainstage Theatre Center April 13-16 at 7:30pm and April 17 at 2pm.  Tickets are $10 ($7 for students). Call the box office at 512-245-2204.

 

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