Review: Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s As You Like It

If you went to high school in North America, you are likely familiar with the writing of William Shakespeare and chances are that while you might understand they were important to the evolution of the English language, you aren’t particularly fond of them. I was one of those people before last weekend, but Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s performance of As You Like It breathed much needed life into words that look so dull sitting on paper. It is an absolute must-see.

As You Like It follows the plot of a quintessential Shakespeare comedy: Following the banishment of her father, a young lady named Rosalind travels into the Forest of Arden—where she believes she can find him—with her best friend and closely pursued by Orlando, a man who is helplessly in love with her. As is to be expected, identities are hidden, love triangles form, and relationships become more and more complicated as nobody can see the full picture.

The acting throughout the performance was, in a word, phenomenal. It was clear that every single actor not only knew their lines but also fully understood them, which made the story easy to follow. The combination of delivery and timing made the audience feel like they were in on the joke regardless of the fact that the play is hundreds of years old.

Among the cast, some standouts were Ian Gillies, who had a perfectly balanced swagger and somber as Jaques, a friend of the exiled duke, and Krista Mihevc as Rosalind, who was effortlessly charismatic and hilarious in every scene. That being said, it was the chemistry of the whole cast that made the performance what it was, so credit should also go to Matthew Venner for his casting and direction.

One of the notable aspects of the show was it had to be performed in the Carleton University Art Gallery for cost and audience size reasons. This affected the performance in both positive and negative ways. While the fact that the actors and audience were in close quarters would have detracted from other plays, the actors instead interacted much more closely with the audience and it made the play even more entertaining than it already was. Another challenge faced by the crew was the fact that art galleries aren’t set up to hold theatrical productions.

For dealing with this clear challenge and creating lighting and a stage that were very professional, Lindsay Tannahill and Tamara LaPlante deserve credit for stage management and Tannahill, Venner, and Laura Walker for lighting design. Their work made the show feel like so much more than a group of friends having fun on stage together.

Overall, Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s performance of As You Like It was the best way I could have spent my Saturday night. They not only overcame the challenges they faced, but used them to better their production and provide an amazing show with a ticket price of only five dollars. I could not recommend seeing this production more.