Wild comedy for As You Like It

Debatably one of Shakespeare’s best comedies staged outdoors is being cultivated by a group of Penticton and South Okanagan actors.

As You Like It by the Penticton Chamber Theatre is performing several dates around the South Okanagan. (From left to right) Marlene Robinson plays Celia

As You Like It by the Penticton Chamber Theatre is performing several dates around the South Okanagan. (From left to right) Marlene Robinson plays Celia

Debatably one of Shakespeare’s best comedies staged outdoors is being cultivated by a group of local actors.

The Penticton Chamber Theatre is inviting the public to the light-hearted play As You Like It, with shows running in Naramata Summerland, Okanagan Falls and Keremeos.

“It is the perfect play to do outdoors in the summertime because all the action happens in the forest,” said Alanna Matthew, director of As You Like It for the Penticton Chamber Theatre. “We have a very strong cast that are well suited to the roles and we are all having a very good time.”

As You Like It is notable for its poetic and telling language. Many phrases spoken in this play are commonly used in the English language such as “All the world’s a stage” and “too much of a good thing.”

“This is such a great play because it pokes fun at human nature, how we deal with things and makes us laugh at ourselves,” said Rae-Marie Leggott, who is playing the main character of Rosalind.

The director describes the character of Rosalind as “one of the best characters in the whole of Shakespeare.” She said Rosalind is a modern, independent, witty woman. Leggott agrees.

“I was intrigued to find out she is one of the largest of Shakespeare’s female roles. The piercing insights the character has on society is also intriguing and in ways those insights still hold true,” said Leggott, who has also been in productions of Twelfth Night and Merchant of Venice.

Her counterpart is Celia, played by a veteran of Penticton Chamber Theatre’s Shakespeare productions, Marlene Robinson.

“My character doesn’t have as many lines so that is a challenge to still have to focus and react to what is happening on stage. You really have to concentrate,” said Robinson. “I really love my character though, she is really courageous”

Robinson said her Celia is there to serve the audience a reminder that Rosalind is masquerading as a young man named Ganymede since they have ran off to the forest, a key part to the comedy.

Love is also a theme in the play and different types of lovers are illustrated. Rosalind and Orlando (who is played by Tyler Fowler, an up-and-coming talent studying theatre at University of Victoria) represent true love built on friendship.

The character of Oliver, when reformed from his initial cruel behaviour is able to fall for Celia, and the earthy jester Touchstone weds the simple country girl Audrey.

Touchstone is played by Martin Pedersen whose most recent work includes a role in the production of Lost In Yonkers by Many Hats Theatre Company. Pedersen said the role is perfect for him as he loves the verbage and, of course, making people smile.

Another feature of As You Like It is the number of songs that it presents. Director Mathew said they are fortunate to have a guitarist/composer/singer Ross Stafford who interprets the songs in the play in his role as Amiens.

As You Like It is taking place Aug. 4-5 at Township 7 Winery in Naramata at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the winery or Dragon’s Den.

The rest of the performances are being conducted by donation. In Summerland they are performing Aug. 7-8 at Memorial Park, from Aug. 9-10 they will be at Kenyon Park in Okanagan Falls and the play will finish with shows at the Grist Mill in Keremeos Aug. 9-10. All performances start at 7 p.m.

“We hope people will be generous and support it as no one gets paid and we are hoping to cover our expenses,” said director Matthew.