Friday, July 26, 2013

Theatre Review: "As You Like It - Two Planks and a Passion" by Michael Chiasson

There aren't enough synonyms for the word "awesome" to describe Two Planks and a Passion's Production of William Shakespeare's As You Like It. 

I didn't know the play, and was kind of daunted by this fact - Shakespearian is kind of a language all its own, and I was worried that I wouldn't understand what was going on.  My fears were put to rest quickly, as the actors led the audience through the plot beautifully.

Act 1 shaped up like this:

The show opens with Orlando, played by Mike McPhee, mourning the fact that even though he is the son of a great guy (Sir Rowland de Bois), he's the YOUNGEST son, and therefore subject to his older brother's methods of distribution of wealth. Orlando doesn't dig the way he's being treated, and chooses to strike out on his own to make his way in the world.

We are now introduced to the lovely and inseparable Rosalind (Alexis Milligan) and Celia (Jamie Konchak). Rosalind is the daughter of Duke Senior (Graham Percy), who was previously exiled by Celia's Dad, Duke Frederick (also Graham Percy - he's a chameleon). Rosalind has what could amount to Survivor's Guilt - when her dad was banished, she was left behind thanks to the favour of her confidante Celia, and although Celia tries to buoy Rosalind's spirits, it isn't until she meets Orlando, that she really starts to glow.

Orlando enters into a contest with the thrice previously victorious Charles, played by Ryan Rogerson, committing what amounts to suicide by wrestler. Charles's previous foes lie broken nearby, and the tag-team of Rosalind and Celia attempt to dissuade Orlando from his certain doom. Orlando not only survives the fight, but actually beats Charles, leaving him motionless in the dirt after an incredible suplex. Duke Frederick congratulates Orlando on his victory, but when finding out Orlando's parentage, takes back his kind words, and barely holds back his fury. Orlando is advised to get the heck outta dodge, and does so quicker than you can say "Edward DeVere", after picking up his trusty manservant Jacques (Daniel Lilliford).

The Duke's fury finally spills over, and now Rosalind finds herself in the same predicament as her dad - exiled. Celia shares her friend's fate through an act of solidarity, and the two decide to seek out Rosalind's exiled father.  They surmise that two attractive, wealthy women-folk will find life in the woods uncomfortable, and so decide to disguise themselves - Celia dubs herself Aliena, while Rosalind goes whole hog, and disguises herself as a dude named Ganymede (that's no moon).

The show progresses beautifully, and everyone ends up happy in the end (Gotta love Comedies! Happy endings for everyone!)

The cast was amazing, I followed the story, and I laughed so hard I forgot the pain of sitting on metal bleachers. This show is a must-see, and its companion "The Iliad By Fire" is delightful and unique in too many ways to be counted.


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