From Shakespeare with love and flowers
As You Like It, one of Shakespeare’s most charming comedies, is now in a youthful and exuberant production at Camden County College in Blackwood. The play embodies many plot devices often used by the Bard, including banished people, fraternal treachery, a girl disguised as a boy, a forest, romantic mix-ups, and so forth. Today’s Shakespearean productions often take liberties with the original, especially with the time period. But what could be better for this play than resetting it in the hippie era of the 1960s? The colorful costumes and wonderful 60s songs and dances will probably bring back fond memories for many audience members.
The story hangs on conflicts between two pairs of brothers. Oliver, a successful businessman running the family orchard, is annoyed with his idle younger brother, Orlando, and decides to teach him a lesson by letting him challenge Charles, a champion wrestler in the employ of Duke Frederick. He is sure that Charles will make short work of Orlando. Meanwhile, Duke Frederick has banished his older brother and taken over his position and the lands and revenues of his followers. The real Duke’s daughter, Rosalind, remains in his court because she and her cousin Celia (Frederick’s daughter) are inseparable, more like sisters. Orlando arrives, and he and Rosalind fall in love at first sight. He defeats Charles in a slow-motion boxing match rather than a wresting match. This puts Frederick in a bad mood, and he orders Rosalind banished from the court on pain of death. Undaunted, she and Celia plot to run away together, with Rosalind disguised as a young man for safety’s sake. Touchstone, the court clown, comes along for entertainment. The three end up in the Forest of Arden, where the rightful Duke is already living as the leader of a band of flower children. You may get a flower if you’re lucky.
Orlando comes to the forest also, hanging verses addressed to Rosalind on every tree. He meets “Ganymede” (Rosalind in disguise—her hippie outfit is something to behold). She scoffs at love and says she will cure him of his lovesickness by pretending to be–what else?–Rosalind. All these forest newcomers interact with the local “shepherds” and “shepherdesses,” and Touchstone is in his element, wooing the shapely Audrey. Enough about the plot; it’s much too complicated! Go and see for yourself.
Remaining shows are 11, 12, 13 and 14 at 8 PM. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, students and Camden County College faculty and staff, and $8 per person for groups of 20 or more. Reservations are suggested. The location is the Little Theatre in Lincoln Hall, 200 College Drive, Blackwood, New Jersey. Call (856) 227-7200, ext. 4737 or visit www.camdencc.edu for details and directions.