U of U Department of Theatre Presents Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’


“As You Like It” program. (Photo by Heather Hopkins | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Heather Hopkins


The University of Utah department of theatre shows off its acting chops in their rendition of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.

An Interactive Show

Keeping the modern attention span engaged for 120 minutes sounds daunting. Add in Shakespearean English, and one may consider it a miracle. Yet, the U’s theatre department pulls off one such miracle in their latest production, “As You like It.” Their energetic performance keeps audience members at the edge of their seats.

The department’s thoughtfulness concerning audience members is evident as soon as you walk in the door. Before entering the theatre itself, audience members are offered the opportunity to spin a wheel which, in turn, guides you to a different prize vending machine. The plastic prize spheres that emerge from within are filled with slips of paper which encourage interactivity during the show. Based on the machine that one’s spin directed them to, a unique toy/fortune cookie hybrid presents one of two guides: insults to hurl during the spirited wrestling match or love poems to offer to one of the many twitterpated characters in a moment of wooing. The performing arts building’s black box theatre is set up with seats on three sides of the stage, offering an intimate viewing.

Stand Out Performance

With such close watching available, the thespians are under pressure as some of the eyes on them are mere inches away from the stage. Under such pressure, dramatic diamonds are formed. Though every actor in the play gives a fantastic performance, there are a few stand-outs. The play’s lead, Rosalind (Camden Barrett) and malcontent character Jacques (Caro Ciet) shine bright in their gender-bending deliveries. The court jester, Touchstone (Zac Thorn) acts as lively liaison between both separate groups of characters, as well as between the audience and cast members. His commentary adds context to a sometimes bewildering script and keeps attendee’s sides in stitches.

Theatergoers watch as the cast moves from an urban court environment to that of the whimsical Forest of Arden with ease. Props (pun unintended) should be given to the set crew who made this transportive experience possible through set, sound and lighting choices. As Jacques begins the notorious “all the world’s a stage” speech, one can’t help but to appreciate the Shakespearean world created on this small Utahn stage.

A Nuanced Comedy

(Photo by Heather Hopkins | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

While “As You Like It” is one of Shakespeare’s less intensely dramatic works, the play is a comedy meant purely for entertainment. As the story goes, themes of love, loss and unexpected connection are embedded throughout. While there is a slight language barrier between the Elizabethan English script and contemporary ears, this gap is bridged by the cast’s convincing portrayal of characters. Their natural inflections and high energy make the make-believe, well, believable. On the note of energy, I would be remiss not to mention the athletic prowess that infiltrated nearly every scene of the play. From the snappy wrestling match to the gymnastic antics of the cast, I left the play exhausted on behalf of the actors.

In her epilogue, our lead Rosalind encourages viewers to “like as much of this play as it pleases you.” In essence, she gives permission to take it as you like it. And like it, we do!


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