By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
“Okay,” old Dennis replies, returning to his village-idiot posture and saying with a moronic timbre: “Offshore drilling is the cure for our current economic crisis.”
As in Twelfth Night,the plot has a woman (played by a man in Shakespeare’s day) going in disguise as a man, for reasons of safety on the road, and to assume some mantle of power. Plug in Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin as you wish. These plots have been a centerpiece of gender-studies analysis for decades.
Christine Lakin’s choreography of big dance numbers greatly contributes to the production’s buoyancy and precision, as do the ensemble’s stellar performances, which also include Audrey Siegel’s ribald Phebe, with padded bottom, clown nose and penned-on leg hair, which she combs; Dan Waskom’s stilt-walking wrestler, Charles; Breanna Pine’s sweet-saucy ingenue, Rosalind; Matt Merchant as her hunk-dolt beau, Orlando; Katie Nunez’s Latina Celia (with a switchblade and a Mexican dress, of course); and Matthew Morgan’s young shepherd, Silvius — even him sucking the toes of his beloved Phebe can’t turn her attentions from Orlando.
Narrating as clown/MC, the “fool” Touchstone, artistic director Matt Walker, in red nose and spiked hair, straddles a line between charm and terror, the dueling, mingling, larger qualities of our life in this oddly hopeful, despondent era.
Jacques is a sorrowful lord, and Kennedy delivers his “all the world’s a stage/seven ages of man” speech in whiteface — a Harlequin suffering from a deficit of good cheer, or any cheer at all. The interpretation is a childlike parody, accompanied by a guitar and sound effects. It leaves the audience mesmerized.
The final age of man that Jacques refers to is oblivion. You’d have to be dead not to feel it looming on the horizon. Late in the play, the other characters finally get Jacques to crack a smile — a large grin. Change we can believe in.
AS U2 LIKE IT | Presented by TROUBADOUR THEATER COMPANY at the Falcon Theater, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank | Through October 22 | (818) 955-8101