Eclectic Full Contact Theatre Presents AS YOU LIKE IT Review – Finding the Comedy in Shakespeare

Eclectic Full Contact Theatre - AS YOU LIKE IT
Honey West and the cast of AS YOU LIKE IT

If you’re one of those people who rarely see the humor in Shakespeare’s comedies, this production of AS YOU LIKE IT will bring it to light. Physical comedy, as well as the usual delicious wordplay, all jump out of this production. You will never question it again.

Eclectic Full Contact Theatre - AS YOU LIKE IT
Chloe Baldwin and Jessica Lauren Fisher

EXPLORING GENDER ROLES

Those familiar with the story, as well as other Shakespearean comedies, know that mistaken identity generally plays a large role. This production uses that to tackle the issue of gender identities and society’s pressure to conform to those roles. The action is set in the 1980’s and still gives the simplistic delight of the original romantic romp. Adding this layer of gender identity, however, gives the story a substantial, but never heavy handed, bit of heft.

Eclectic Full Contact Theatre - AS YOU LIKE IT
Chloe Baldwin as Rosalind

ECLECTIC FULL CONTACT THEATRE’S COMMITMENT TO BOLDNESS

The setting of the 1980’s gives the production a newness that would be entertaining even if the rest of the production were lacking, which it is certainly not. Along with the fun of the story, the audience is treated to lighting reminiscent of the Lite Brite (80’s kids?), large shoulder pads, boomboxes and even original music written using Shakespeare’s dialogue in the style of 80’s rap.

Eclectic Full Contact Theatre - AS YOU LIKE IT

Katherine Siegel, directer and co-artistic director of the company, finds the comedy in this familiar piece. She has assembled a cast that is skilled at both physical comedy, as well as hitting the humor of the dialogue. The fluidity of the piece moves gracefully and never loses sight of the unique and amazing vision.

Eclectic Full Contact Theatre - AS YOU LIKE IT

A CAST FULL OF TALENT

The anchor of this play is the relationship between Rosalind and Orlando, played by Chloe Baldwin and Aja Singletary respectively. Baldwin tackles the role of Rosalind aggressively and the result is astounding. She plays both sides of the gender role coin, both with confidence and hilarity, and shows the illusion of these imagined societal roles. Singletary, playing a role originally intended for a man, makes you wonder how this play could ever work if Orlando were actually man. She absolutely owns this role. Laura Carney is a master at showing disdain as the exiled Jacques. Her deadpan delivery and facial expressions will make you glad this production allows the close proximity to the actors.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Top Pick For: Those that love new takes on Shakespeare
Not recommended for: Those who hate new takes on Shakespeare

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago

When:

March 23 - April 22, 2018

Photos by

Eclectic Full Contact Theatre

Where:

Athenaeum Theater, 2936 N. Southport, Chicago

Tickets:

Online at Eclectic Full Contact Theatre website
Or by phone at 773-935-6875
Or in person at the Athenaeum Box Office

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