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"Doyle seems to have eschewed comedy in favor of a host of recycled ideas, leaving his actors to fend for themselves...The major problem with this production is that, for a comedy, it's just not that funny. Doyle embellishes the play with his usual kabuki-like flourishes...Sadly, Doyle neglects to refine the comic beats...Original songs fail to inject much levity...The result is a middling production of a second-rate comedy. But at a zippy 1 hour, 45 minutes, it goes by quickly enough." Full Review
"The principal characters and speeches remain, but without the tension and texture that cohere them. The result is a lot of coming and going that rarely makes best use of its ensemble cast...What’s missing is the weight that can give romance its footing. There are moments to like here, but not enough to love." Full Review
"If a production falls flat in a forest, does anyone hear it?...The question springs to mind while watching John Doyle's 'As You Like It'...Whenever things threaten to become tedious, which is often, Doyle has the actors engage in such bits of business as sweeping the playing area or kicking around a soccer ball...The performances are all over the map, with the standouts being Hannah Cabell's feisty Rosalind and Quincy Tyler Bernstine's appealing Celia." Full Review
"So cut down it has bled out...You can get a glimmer of what Doyle is after: a plain, vernacular presentation of the text by actors who look and sound like today...Admirable as this approach may seem in the abstract, there is something stingy about it in practice. All pageantry is lost...The deeper problem here is what happens when there is no style, or rather when the lack of style becomes a style in itself...It feels wrong to blame the cast for what is evidently Doyle’s doing." Full Review
"At its best, director-designer Doyle’s production conjures moments of giddy awe that approximate the sense of being a child at play in a forest...Such a genial, organic approach has its pluses and minuses: You gain intimacy and emotional delicacy, and lose some of the drive and anarchic wit. Still, Cabell makes for one of the brightest and pluckiest Rosalinds I’ve seen in years. She’s countered amusingly by Quincy Tyler Bernstine’s Celia." Full Review
"Doyle gives us a hyper-whimsical slant...The trouble is it’s too whimsical, if such a thing is possible...Doyle remembers the goofiness, but the stakes in the romance of the leads and the redemption of the refugees are not very high...There are moments of delight, chiefly during the musical interludes...The leads fail to offer much weight...The action is so short and fast, not much registers in this soap-bubble Shakespeare." Full Review
"The production is filled with likable talents, none of them doing their best work...Still, the most notable thing about all of them is their rushed approach to the dialogue...The more breathless the action, the slower this 'As You Like It' seems. Because it never gives us a minute to relax and get to know the characters, it's all too easy to tune out and simply mark time...This is the least enchanting 'As You Like It' I've ever seen." Full Review
“Charming but not altogether successful…Some scenes and characters have been trashed or condensed...John Doyle, hewing to his signature style of paring away as much as possible of the script…Doyle's bare, wood-planked, brick-backgrounded set is saved from boredom by a delightfully attractive arrangement of multiple, varisized lighting globes…Stephen Schwartz composed the wonderful, jazz-inflected tunes…Burstyn not only makes every word count, she lands many laughs.” Full Review
"Perhaps in part because the first song doesn’t come along until a half-hour into the proceedings, Doyle’s 'As You Like It' gets off to a slowish, oddly unspecific start...Truth to tell, I never really thought that Doyle’s underlying concept for the production registered with full clarity, nor did it seem that he was entirely at ease with Shakespeare’s comic side. Fortunately, the rest of the cast is full of fine performers, and the second half of the show took wing and gave much pleasure." Full Review
"Doyle’s textual cuts are so numerous that the play becomes too choppy. The transition from the royal court to the woods is also muted due to the bare, all-purpose scenic design. Nevertheless, the intimate production is mostly enjoyable, possessing a speed and seamlessness that suits the play’s whimsical nature. The audience receives a good deal of attention, and one lucky guy is even selected for a cameo. The cast is excellent." Full Review
"There’s something admirably loose at the way Doyle tells the story...Because the entire enterprise has the come-what-may feel to it, it has an overall easy appeal. Much of it comes across as understated even at times when the characters are comically overstated...Do notice that at the finale the four couples united are mixed. Is a statement being made? It is, whether intentional or not, and certainly it’s a welcome vision for these racism-stuffed parlous days." Full Review
"Fails to elicit any magic...The whole CSC version seems changed and not for the better. The show comes alive when Schwartz’s tunes are sung or played by fiddle, upright bass, and piano. The question becomes, why not musicalize this piece, or at least give us more?...Burstyn is a low-key Jacques, but she has that 'it' factor. Even so, her speech 'all the world’s a stage' just sort of fizzles and this 100-minute production just seems longer than long." Full Review
"Rarely have I seen such widespread joy cross so many faces like the wave at a football game as I observed during John Doyle’s fleet, exuberant, giddy-making production. And for good reason...The comedy is robust, the gravitas is deep yet not portentous...The heavy linguistic lifting is handled with ethereal bliss by a trio of experts...There’s magic in the air, and then, in just 90 too-brief minutes, it’s gone." Full Review
"Between life-or-death exiles and jumbled romances, 'As You Like It' is built to spark a gamut of emotions. Alas, CSC’s revival of Shakespeare’s rom-com fires so few of them...Burstyn's take on the famous 'all the world’s a stage speech' comes and goes without making a mark. That’s pretty much par for the course for director Doyle’s staging...The show has a couple bright spots. Music by Schwartz for the song-stuffed play enhance the mood. And Doyle cleverly conjures the Arden woods." Full Review
"All the ingredients are here for a delightful skip and swing through the woods into love and marriage, but strangely it just doesn’t really grab hold. Even with the wonderfully fun characterizations...the language doesn’t feel wondrous enough...The poetry of Shakespeare’s 'As You Like It' isn’t there, and what is there is not to my liking. It stumbles in the woods, and no amount of colorful globes of light, rainbow umbrellas, or jaunty tunes will save the story from falling on its face." Full Review
"The play's essential pleasures are unharmed by all the text and character cuts...Hannah Cabell is a terrifically engaging Rosalind...Overall, the whole closely knit ensemble is fun to watch...If I had to pick a single standout from all these excellent performers, I wouldn't hesitate for a minute: He may be older than most Touchstones but I can't recall seeing a more memorable one than song and dance veteran André De Shields." Full Review
"Under John Doyle’s exacting direction, the ensemble cast is uniformly excellent. Their performances–believable and authentic–carefully explore their characters’ levels of complexity and the engaging conflicts that drive the comedy’s fluid plot. The production is marred, however, by the inability of the audience to hear the dialogue...Overall, the Classic Stage Company’s 'As You Like It' is a fitting addition to the Company’s fifty years of excellence in theatre." Full Review
“While the early parts of the play seem a bit rushed from all the cuts, once the play moves to the Forest of Arden it settles down into a stable comic rhythm. Performed without an intermission, John Doyle's production moves swiftly and ends on a happy, upbeat note. This pared-down Shakespeare seems to be the current new trend, not to all minds, but offering pleasures of its own. The Stephen Schwartz song settings turn this into almost a full-fledged musical comedy.” Full Review
"Burstyn’s understated, precise performance delivers a riveting lesson in dramatic economy, simplicity, and truthfulness...There are a number of other moments during the course of 'As You Like It' that rise to almost the same performance level. But these moments are few and far between, and they do not channel Shakespeare as profoundly, or quite so effortlessly...This 'As You Like It' is reduced to a distillation of itself; more the idea of 'As You Like It' than the actual play." Full Review
"There’s a lot of hell-raising, some of it funny, going on in director Doyle’s staging...But is it Shakespeare?...Doyle’s cast plunges into his conception with enthusiasm, and in particular cases, with special acting talent...While there are doses of charm and humor, the beauty of the Bard’s language is mostly buried. And by truncating the work way beyond some prudent editing, we do not get the play interpreted close to what it probably was meant to be by the author." Full Review
"The story’s a little muddy, but director John Doyle and company still fill this trip to Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden with lots of happy sightseeing...The cast all contribute to an eminently watchable production even if the storytelling sometimes seems muddled...The language–abounding in wit and poetry–begins to sound more archaic than usual...Nevertheless, it is a production packed with goodies...The songs give the show yet another extra frisson." Full Review
"A lighthearted romp that forgoes some of the heavier political and personal grievances that chased the main characters into the forest in the first place...Schwartz’s catchy jazz melodies...take the often scene-stalling 'songs' that are already in the play and extend them out much further to practical effect...De Shields’ performance is both magical and uproariously funny...Burstyn’s delivery is revolutionary...A satisfyingly full production that almost feels like a terrifically fun musical." Full Review
"It looks and feels as distinctive as any Doyle production...It is also very confusingly staged...A number of things either don’t happen on stage or happen slightly off stage, with people running hither and thither, which seems like willful and empty rebellions against staging rather than adding to audience pleasure and understanding...It is the melancholy truth-teller Jaques that steals the show...You hang on Ellyn Burstyn’s dry and careworn wisdom." Full Review
“Doyle’s overall approach is flattening, abstract, and ‘dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage’...He flattens the rhythm out of much of the text, either driving past the jokes or pounding them into the ground. Regarding erotic spark, in this play full of love and gender ambiguity, he supplies next to none, so that his intermissionless hour and 45 minutes of playing time seem more plot recitation than comic romance...Given its castful of gifted performers, that shouldn’t be the case." Full Review
"There’s a lot that’s mismatched in this production...In fact, there’s downright perplexity along with plenty of charm...The costumes are a mixed bag...Same for the music...Major kudos to Cabell for being not only comprehensible while speed-speaking but actually captivating...The remainder of the cast has highs and lows...There are many charms to this new production. But I say to Doyle: Take ten more minutes of our lives, or maybe fifteen...And the work will be the better for it." Full Review
See it if you love the play, Ellen Burstyn, André De Shields or you want to see an outstanding performance from Hannah Cabell.
Don't see it if you are looking for some interesting insight into the text or any particularly interesting staging
See it if You’re open to a fresh take on Shakespeare with song, spirited energy, humor and passion without losing any of the original play
Don't see it if You need your Shakespeare unblemished or just don’t like Shakespeare
See it if you love Shakespeare and want to see an entertaining interpretation of one of his best plays, complete with music!
Don't see it if you need big staging. The CSC is a great, intimate theater where the audience is a part of the performance.
See it if you are want to see some great acting from Hannah Cabell.
Don't see it if you falls asleep easily. When I went, I started counting how many people were snoring, which is about 50%.
See it if your autograph book needs signatures from legends Andre De Shields and Ellyn Burstyn (plus an anticipatory one from Quincy Tyler Bernstine).
Don't see it if you're going to compare it to the BAM production starring Rebecca Hall who gave the most emotionally real take on Rosalind I've ever seen.
See it if You love Shakespeare comedies and would like to see a somewhat entertaining rendition. It was light-hearted and amusing.
Don't see it if While the language was pretty, overall I found the play boring. A bunch of corny love affairs and sweet songs in the forest.
See it if You want to see a different take on a wonderful play. You love Ellen Burstyn.
Don't see it if You want to see and feel real chemistry between the lovers in the show. You dislike cuts to Shakespeare.
See it if you like different productions of Shakespeare, want music in it, & want to see Ms. Burstyn
Don't see it if don't want the script cut or bare -bones scenery; want period costumes; want to feel romantic connections with the couples
See it if you enjoy traditional Shakespeare with a dash of original music added.
Don't see it if you saw the Central Park production and want to compare them, this production pales in comparison
See it if you'll be satisfied with well-meaning but joyless recitations of Shakespeare
Don't see it if you expect a show to do more than trade on famous names (Shakespeare/Doyle/Burstyn) to earn its applause
See it if you have no experience with Shakespeare or great drama. This is a play that can be magical but here is dull and devoid of romance and fun
Don't see it if you want your romance delivered with panache and passion. There is nothing here to raise it above the mundane and pedestrian
See it if you like the idea of a compressed AYLI. It is short. If you want to see Andre DeShields and Ellen Burstyn. You want to hear Schwartz's music
Don't see it if you are looking for traditional Shakespeare, you don't like it when actors talk fast, or if you don't like Shakespeare, in general.
See it if you enjoy seeing all the different things that directors can do to Shakespeare to improve it and "make it relevant", such as excessive cuts.
Don't see it if you don't enjoy seeing good actors who have apparently been instructed to downplay the text, many of them wearing dreadful costumes.
See it if you're interested in seeing an abbreviated version of the play with some incidental music by Stephen Schwartz. Some lovely vignettes.
Don't see it if you like your Shakespeare big with a large cast and elaborate scenery and costumes.
See it if You like simplified Shakespeare done well, with little pretense, and a light touch.
Don't see it if You’re looking for a star turn. We were excited to see Ellen Burstyn, and she was perfectly fine, but had very little to do.