Love, not just comedy

Vagabond Theatre recreates William Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It

As You Like It follows the story of Rosalind, the niece of a duke who’s been exiled by her uncle.
As You Like It follows the story of Rosalind, the niece of a duke who’s been exiled by her uncle.
Photo: 
Vagabond Theatre’s all-student cast re-enact William Shakespeare’s famous comedy As You Like It. Just like it was done at the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare’s day, the audience is given a 360 view of the stage.
Vagabond Theatre’s all-student cast re-enact William Shakespeare’s famous comedy As You Like It. Just like it was done at the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare’s day, the audience is given a 360 view of the stage.
Photo: 

There’s lots of love in Vagabond Theatre’s quirky and exuberant version of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The show runs at the Rotunda Theatre in Theological Hall. It’s like being in the Globe Theatre — the audience sits on all sides of the action.

The set design is minimalist to an extreme — a rock is often the only object on stage. It anchors the performance without distracting from the actors. Instead, the play uses imaginative lighting and few props to accompany the acting.

Director Adrian Young said he was drawn to the fun spirit of As You Like It and felt that the Rotunda was the only venue that could capture the play’s intimacy. He said the set design allows the audience to become the ultimate prop for the actors.

As You Like It follows the exiled Rosalind, her cousin Celia and the foolish Touchstone. The three leave the court of Celia’s tyrannical father to go on a gender-bending romp through the Forest of Arden.

The minimalist set puts pressure on the student cast. But the actors rise to the occasion, bringing palpable energy to the performance.

At the play’s climax, Rosalind transforms from a submissive girl into a scheming manipulator. Queen’s drama student Nicolette Pearse succeeds in the role.

Ross Somerville gives one of the strongest performances in his role as Orlando — Rosalind’s love-struck admirer. His fury and infatuation are genuine and the audience finds themselves rooting for the unlucky suitor. His relationship with his servant Adam is tender, with Ray Jacildo shining in the poignant role.

Matt McFetridge provides the laughs with his masterful use of the staging — bounding across the stage and thrusting his pelvis.

The lack of lengthy soliloquies serves only to highlight the strength of the cast, particularly the exceptional supporting members. Deanna Choi played violin in addition to her role as Amiens.

As You Like It is incredibly accessible and genuinely funny from the start. From the physical comedy to the touching themes of love and acceptance, the performance delights.

As You Like It plays at the Rotunda Theatre in Theological Hall tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 at Tricolour Outlet.

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