Theater Review: 'As You Like It' -- 2.5 stars
As You Like It
Earlier this week, the Public Theater held a one-night presentation of "Romeo & Juliet" at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park with an extremely starry cast led by Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Christopher Walken.
Since it was a benefit gala, tickets started at $1,500.
Contrary to tradition, the Public did not dole out any free tickets.
Those hoping to enjoy some less costly Shakespeare will have to settle for Daniel Sullivan's acceptable but uninspired staging of the warmhearted pastoral comedy, "As You Like It."
"As You Like It" begins with Rosalind (the terrific Lily Rabe) and Orlando (a pouting David Furr), who fall in love on first sight, getting banished from the duke's court.
Joined by her cousin Celia (played tenderly by Renee Elise Goldsberry) and the clown Touchstone (a broadly comical Oliver Platt), Rosalind dresses like a man for protection and heads to the Forest of Arden, where her father lives in exile with a band of men including the melancholy Jacques (Stephen Spinella).
Sullivan's production is set in the pre-Civil War South. At first, the stage is dominated by an imposing log fence and a lookout tower commanded by gun-toting soldiers.
After the move to Arden, the fence splits to reveal a more attractive forest set. For additional atmosphere, actor Steve Martin composed a bluegrass score, played by a live band.
As Rosalind, Rabe brings out the same aggressive streak and humor that made her Portia in "The Merchant of Venice" so thrilling.
But it's like watching the same performance again. Spinella makes for an eloquent and sensitive Jacques.