Love letter to Sac
As You Like It
Sacramento, CA 95815
Let’s face it: Shakespeare is hard to pull off. His plays frequently feature runs of esoteric references, $9 words and phallic jokes. And those are just the tragedies. But once in a while, a company produces an adaptation that puts everything in perspective.
To that end, Big Idea Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It, adapted by Brian Harrower. Under the inspired direction of Benjamin T. Ismail, this must-see pastoral comedy makes its mark by bringing the French duchy and Forest of Arden to Sacramento—literally.
Here, Rosalind (Jamie Kale) must flee the court to live a life of banishment in the strange Forest of Arden, where she encounters odd characters that show her a life devoid of time and embellishments.
Instead of exiling Rosalind to a literal forest filled with woodland shepherds, however, her new home is in the Sacramento-based Arden Park, where she lives among the destitute.
The cast works together to make conscious, bold choices with its actions and reactions. Each actor’s comedic timing is impeccable, and the live music throughout fits the adaptation—just like everything else.
Standout performance nods go to Kale for her lead and Mary Katherine Cobb for the devoted cousin, Celia. Casey Worthington brings the fire in his flaming Touchstone, and Matthew Donaldson shows off perfect deadpan timing as the lovelorn Silvius.
The most memorable part of the production, however, is the amazing choice for the usually pompous “melancholy gentlemen” Jaques (an unrecognizable Kirk Blackinton) to be played as a mentally ill vagrant. The audience laughs a lot throughout the play, but everyone shuts their mouths and nobody dares breathe when this Jaques speaks. They want to hear every word, and for good reason.
The set is a love letter to our fair city from designer Brian Watson, complete with a backdrop depicting the Capitol and the tops of the Tower Bridge and some of our most iconic skyscrapers. Hell, even the house music is stuff by Cake and Zuhg.
Big Idea Theatre has had triumphs with its takes on Shakespeare in the past, but this adaptation is without a doubt the theater’s strongest effort to date and should not be missed.