Significant chunks of dialogue from the infamous comedy were pulled and plastered with songs from The Beatles: 25 in fact. That’s a lot of eliminated dialogue. The songs are strategically placed at major plot points or twists, and there are sections in the play where the story hick-ups along until it sutures itself together again, but by and large it works and works well (opening night was one of the most wondrously raucous Bard has had in years). The story is coherent, though it takes a few shortcuts, and the music is as immortal as the text. In fact, it almost feels like they were meant for each other. Ah, another love story.
The story: Two older brothers fight over the family fortune and one is banished from the village. The banished brother’s daughter remains with her female cousin until the daughter falls in love with a poor but handsome young man (he’s a wrestler in this rendition). She too is then banished so she disguises herself as a boy ('cause it's Shakespeare) and flees with her cousin and her servant into the forest to start a new life.
The young wrestler and his brother too squabble over the family fortune until the younger one throws in the towel and leaves town to avoid an eradicable three tap.
While on their respective journeys the star-crossed lovers meet again and a game of wits ensues keeping the young man on the ropes, and drawing all who cross their path into a sparring match of love and lust that culminates in weddings, reconciliations, and at least one evident happy ending.
The opening wrestling choreography is impressive and well articulated. The actors jump from nailing intricate Shakespearean dialogue to interjecting strategically placed novel comedic one-liners that feel as natural as thou arte. The gestures and delivery offered by some of the actors are worth their weight in gold (e.g. the fabulous Kayvon Khoshkam as Touchstone) and just when you think it’s unfair to ask for more, the actors take turns jumping from centre stage to playing instruments where they provide the music for the entire show.
The Beatles songs clearly overshadow the play itself, a testament to their phenomenal power to take centre stage in any arena even today, but it is the cast who brings them to life. The players take turns stealing scenes (there are a lot of stolen scenes) and pushing the bar higher and higher as the story progresses. All this is done to the great amusement of audience members who are periodically offered an opportunity to participate in the action.
On opening night this show got a standing ovation before the actors could fill the stage. If you choose one show this year see this rendition of As You Like It. You’ll love it, and hey, all you need it love, right?
For a link to tickets click HERE 'cause they're going fast.