As You Like It, Festival Theatre. "We who are true lovers run into strange capers," declares the mischievous Touchstone--and four pairs of lovers pursuing one another through the English countryside all but guarantee odd adventures. Director Jack Hickey minimizes the lugubrious circumstances behind a quartet of nobles suddenly forced to fraternize with farmers, instead having fun with the confusion when the two cultures meet.
This Festival Theatre production relies on our imagination to augment a bare stage and contemporary casual costumes. These choices may be partly the result of budgetary concerns, but there's nothing untoward in returning to the spareness of Elizabethan stagecraft. The exuberant cast, assisted by Jordan Keller's pop-oriented score, keeps the show animated and the text coherent. Roxanne Fay projects a wholesome preppiness as Rosalind, while Steve Dunne infuses Touchstone's well-worn japes with fresh humor and delivers them with impeccable timing.
But what lingers in our minds is Scott Lynch-Giddings as the cynical Jaques. This production reveals the source of his wry humor and gloomy outlook in a deft turn, when Rosalind notes the "dog tags" identifying him as a war veteran. "To have seen much, and to have nothing, is to have rich eyes and poor hands," she remarks. "Yes, I have gained my Experience," he replies.