Sprawling fields of grass surrounding a beautiful 100-year-old mansion stretch out to an incredibly constructed stage. Audience members sit in rows of lawn chairs or occupy their own picnic blankets, many with full spreads of food and drink to turn this night at the theater into a true outing. The stage is adorned in true Shakespearean fashion, beautifully draped and manipulated to transport the audience to the scene of a palace just as easily as entering the forest (scenic design by Angela Weber Miller and props design by Cassandra Schillo). The stage and scene are perfectly crafted to transport the audience into a completely new world, just for one night.
As You Like It on the grounds of Mayslake Peabody Mansion provides an immersive night of modern Shakespeare. With the comedic (and sometimes tragic) skill of its actors and director Skyler Schrempp, the performance excellently captures the lively wit of Shakespeare’s classic. Especially notable are performances by leads Nicholas Harazin and Leslie Ann Sheppard (Orlando and Rosalind, respectively) as well as Kevin McKillip (Jacques) who began his career as a professional clown. The costuming (done by Mieka van der Ploeg) accompanied by the fluidity of gender among characters help to modernize the piece, allowing audiences to embrace the richness of Shakespeare without losing their sense of place. As characters dance around and sing together, trick each other, and write love sonnets that they subsequently make fun of, audiences are never once disconnected from the intricacies of the story.
Recommended for any Shakespeare fan, or anyone who loves embracing the theater.
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 Theater in Chicago.
Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St & Rt 83
July 12-August 20, 2017
Wednesday-Sundays at 8:15 PM