Friday, February 13, 2009

review -- Modern Muse's 'As You Like It'

Here's a review I wrote for the Post that just came out today. These guys are some talented actors, but the directors attempted to tell this story with a cast of only 6 people playing all the roles, and it just didn't quite work out.

Here's the lede, which i like :)

'For art to have value, an element of risk is crucial. And theater especially embodies risk, perhaps more than any other art form. Writers have editors, film actors get endless takes, and painters can literally cover their mistakes. But on stage, every performance has a life of its own, subject to a thousand factors that can alter the final result.'

The other strange choice they made was to set the play in rural Appalachia. Which is fine; I've seen some Shakespeare productions (and been in some, too) that were set in unexpected places and times. But good God, I'm sorry but i just can't listen to the Bard's words spoken like it's Bo and Luke Duke having a conversation with Boss Hawg. To wit:

'But even with the understanding that wigs, accents and body language must shift in order for audiences to get that the actors are playing someone else now, it's all so over-the-top that it's distracting. The accents are a straight-up Yankee interpretation of Southern trailer trash. And even if someone somewhere really does speak that way, and even if Appalachian dialect is the closest extant example we have of Elizabethan speech, it's nonetheless horrifying to hear Shakespeare masticated through a "Deliverance" style of parlance.'

Well, read the whole review, and maybe even see the show--there are some good performances in it, and if you don't mind the accents, there are some very funny and silly moments built in too. The dialect might not bother some people like it did me. Here's what Juliet Wittman of Westword thought.


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