Photo by Scott Suchman, courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company
[Note: I had the opportunity to attend the opening night performance of Sheakespeare Theatre Company’s production of “As You Like It.” My friend, Torey, joined me, and provided the below write-up about it. Generally, we both recommend it for a grown-up outing, but older kids who can sit through long productions might enjoy it, too.]
“As You Like It” is another wonderful production by Shakespeare Theater Company. The comedy of mistaken identity (and love, of course) will remind you of what Shakespeare did best: Create a tangled plot that lures you in with compelling characters and poetic verse.
The story is about Rosalind, who (disguised as a boy) runs away to the Forest of Arden with her cousin, Celia, fleeing her mean uncle. Throughout their journey, the two meet many interesting characters, including Rosalind’s love interest, Orlando, whom she encounters as he competes in a wrestling match in the forest. You’ll recognize one of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches, “All the world’s a stage…”, spoken by Jaques, a traveller they encounter along the way.
The cast of As You Like It is superb. Opening night shows can often come with kinks that haven’t quite been ironed out yet, but this performance was spot on, and the actors delivered as if they were months into it. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it should surprise and delight if you enjoy seeing a talented cast come together and truly have fun on stage.
As You Like It is running at the Lansburgh Theatre through December 14. Tickets are available for purchase online or by calling 877-487-8849. The running time is 2 hours and 45 minutes, including intermission.
Disclosure: KidFriendly DC received complimentary tickets to see As You Like It, but all opinions expressed here are entirely those of the writer.
Eagerly awaiting the start of his first Shakespeare play
It never would have occurred to me to take Owen to see a Shakespeare play had the Shakespeare Theatre Company not hosted Family Week as A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs at Sidney Harman Hall. After all, I didn’t get my first dose of The Bard until I was in high school nor did I fully appreciate his work until I studied it as an English major in college.
But the Family Week promotion caught my attention. There were performances geared toward little ones during the week, along with special family ticket packages for the full-scale production that implied the play was appropriate for kids ages five and up. So, when I was offered a couple of complimentary tickets to see the show, I decided my theatre date would be six-year-old, Owen, instead of my husband.
That turned out to be an excellent decision. Not only did Owen enjoy the play, it was a fantastic way for him to experience Shakespeare for the first time. A lot of it had to do with the production itself — A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a light, fanciful tale filled with whimsy and humor. Fairies, magic, and romantic mix-ups are factored well into the story, and plenty of comedy, both cheeky and physical, rounds out the fun. And this version has some touches that I think makes it a little more relatable for kids. The characters’ costumes look contemporary — Hermia and Demetrius wear prep school uniforms — and Lysander seems familiar with his “dude”- like delivery and jeans, flannel shirt, and guitar on his back.
It also helped that STC provided programs for kids that included a synopsis of the play as well as word games and other fun tidbits about Shakespeare and the show (they also had some craft projects for kids in the mezzanine lobby, though we skipped them). I’d given Owen some background beforehand, but we also read the synopsis together, which definitely helped him follow the plot. And seeing other kids in the theatre — quite a few families took advantage of Family Week — likely made the whole experience less intimidating. In fact, the way Owen cackled at some of Bottom’s funniest moments, I’d say he was pretty darn comfortable being there.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be at Sidney Harman Hall in Penn Quarter through January 6. And even though Family Week is over, I still recommend giving it a go with the kids. Give them some background beforehand, and it wouldn’t hurt to ask the theatre if they have any more of the kids’ guides. Like me, you might be pleasantly surprised to find you have little Shakespeare fan in the family.
Tickets for A Midsummer Night’s Dream start at $43. Performances take place most evenings with some afternoon shows on the weekends as well.
The Shakespeare Theatre Company is getting ready to welcome world-renowned puppeteer Basil Twist to Washington, DC, as he presents his production of Petrushka, a tragic love story of three puppets at a Russian carnival. The show, recommended for children in third grade and up, will run from March 18-25 at the Lansburgh Theatre in Penn Quarter.
Here is more about the show from the website: “Petrushka, the clown, falls in love with the winsome Ballerina at first sight. The conniving and rich Moor loves the Ballerina as well, and seduces her with beautiful things. She rejects the earnest advances of Petrushka, who, upset and lonely, confronts the Moor. Have these puppets come to life, or are they merely playing out a story being told?
Reality and magic are woven together by the deft hand of Basil Twist, against the backdrop of a specially created two-piano version of Stravinsky’s original ballet score. Nine hidden puppeteers use a combination of Czech and Japanese techniques to bring the puppets and Basil Twist’s vision to life. The performance opens with an abstract fantasia of puppetry, set to Stravinsky’s Sonata for Two Pianos.”
You can enter to win a pair of tickets to see the show simply by leaving a comment below. Earn an extra entry by liking KidFriendly DC on Facebook, and come back to let me know you did. A winner will be drawn at random and announced at the end of the week.