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As You Like It 

Wednesday, Jul 5 2006
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The Independent Shakespeare Company proves it can muster the wit, verve, lightness of touch and cheeky irreverence to make Shakespeare’s comedy genuinely funny. Two performances define and dominate it: Melissa Chalsma’s Rosalind is beautiful, sweet, clever and sometimes zany, finding comedy in unexpected places. In her scenes with her handsome, hunky Orlando (Sean Pritchett), the chemicals sizzle and charm. David Melville transforms the clown Touchstone into a deadpan star turn. He’s already shown us an antic Hamlet, but here he’s anarchic, wielding his jester’s cap and bells in ways that verge on pornographic. Directors Sanford Robbins and Chalsma provide the fast-paced staging, and the large cast lends admirable support. Andrea Gwynnel Morgan’s Celia is a fine foil for Rosalind, Hayden Adams is appropriately sinister as evil Oliver, and Freddy Douglas is unexpectedly elegant as melancholy Jacques, while Jennifer Mefford and Aisha Kabia score as sluttish Audrey and love-lorn Phebe, respectively. Rachel Ford Pritchett’s excellent no-period costumes add exotic touches as needed. Best of all, the show is free — but make reservations. And bring a blanket. Independent Shakespeare Company, the Great Lawn of Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; in rep, call for schedule; thru Aug. 13. (818) 710-6306.

—Neal Weaver

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