Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

As You Like It
Synetic Theater
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind and Stage Kiss


Taylor Robinson and Philip Fletcher
Photo by Johnny Shryock
Paata Tsikurishvili's adaptation of As You Like It for Synetic Theater in Arlington, Virginia, takes many liberties with William Shakespeare's original plot and characters, but that's all to the good in this vital and utterly involving production.

This is the 12th in Synetic's series of "wordless Shakespeare" productions, which express Shakespearean ideas and literary metaphors through physical movement rather than speech. In response to criticism by commentators and politicians who have not seen any of the productions, the wordlessness is meant not to replace the original text but to depict it in a different medium. For example, in this production Jaques (Scott Brown) presents the famous "Seven Ages of Man" speech as a breathless extended mime while wearing one mask on top of another.

The play concerns Rosalind (Taylor Robinson), daughter of the deposed Duke Senior (Irakli Kavsadze), and Orlando (Philip Fletcher), disinherited son of a nobleman, and their meetings at court and in exile in the "Forest of Arden." Tsikurishvili, who also directed, has reimagined Arden, usually an idyllic escape, as a grim post-industrial wasteland overrun by foragers. Duke Senior and his followers, including the musician Amiens (sound editor/resident composer Konstantine Lorkipanidze), work to forge a new civilization out of the ruins while Rosalind and her cousin Celia (Sharisse Taylor) take on new identities to fit into an unfamiliar world.

The visuals are eye-filling and endlessly inventive as choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili, with fight choreography by Ben Cunis. Kendra Rai has designed evocative costumes for both the court—Rosalind and Celia make their first appearances in glitzy sequined dresses, while Duke Senior and his usurper, Duke Frederick (also Kavsadze), pick up the theme with sparkling tuxedo lapels and top hats—and Arden, where most of the residents wear worn hoodies and torn jeans.

One highlight of this production is the emphasis on women who fight back when they are treated badly and can trade blows with the men. Not only does Rosalind grab a gun at one point, Orlando's brother Oliver (Scott Turner) is shadowed by Audrey (Francesca Blume), a tough gal who seemingly stepped out of film noir—at least until she arrives in Arden and finds a pair of tap shoes—and Rosalind faces the unwanted advances of Phebe (Laura Artesi), who shows amazing muscular control as a pole dancer.

Synetic Theater
As You Like It
December 9th - January 17th, 2016
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
Director/Adaptation: Paata Tsikurishvili
Rosalind: Taylor Robinson
Celia: Sharisse Taylor
Touchstone: Will Hayes
Audrey: Francesca Blume
Orlando: Philip Fletcher
Oliver: Scott Turner
Jaques: Scott Brown
Phebe: Laura Artesi
Silvius: Vato Tsikurishvili
Duke Frederick/Duke Senior: Irakli Kavsadze
Amiens: Konstantine Lorkipanidze
Ensemble: Irina Kavsadze, Anna Lynch, Shu-nan Chu
Choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili
1800 S. Bell St.
Arlington, VA 22202
Ticket Information: 866-811-4111 or www.synetictheater.org


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