Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. Last Sunday afternoon, Nederland residents were treated to a free performance of Shakespeares As You Like It presented by the Longmont Theatre Company and the Theater Company of Lafayette.
AYLI is a typical Shakespeare company with brothers at war with each other, one of the leaving to forest, and young women dressed in men’s clothing to find out the truth about the men they love.
Sunday’s version of the play takes play in 1863 in Kentucky during the Civil War pits two brothers on opposite sides of the battle. Colonel Fredrick defeated his Union brother known as at the Old Duke who escapes and flees to the Forest of Arden.
Rosalind who was left behind lives with the Colonel’s daughter Celia until the Colonel banishes her.
The girls also flee to Arden disguised as a young soldier and as a poor woman. The Colonel’s fool, Touchstone joins them. Orlando and rosalind meet and fall in love. Oliver decides to kill his younger brother in his sleep but Orlando escapes to find the Old Lduke in Arden.
Rosalind keeps her disguise to teach Orlando the proper way to woo her. Soon four couples fall in love with each other and everything becomes typically confusing and hilarious and fun as the audience watch how the plot falls out to a happy ending when all the couple are married.
The estranged brothers make up and love conquers all.
The appealing part of this performance is that it is all done with a Southern accent. Shakespeare’s lines are slowed down, spoken wit a gentle drawl and made easier to understand.
Typical Elizabethan ditties are performed as old time camp songs, “Clementine,” and “Gonna go down to the river and pray,” and costumes are the blue and grey uniforms of the North and South and the homespun look of the times.
Director Heather Balise says, “Taking the story out of its traditional era and location and recreating the story during the highly recognizable time period of the American Civil War offered up an abundance of new themes and relationships to explore through the lens of the 19th century.”
The Taste of Shakespeare summer performances are part of an outreach group meant to introduce the company to outlying regions of the area. The cast is perfect, bringing to life the language of the time, the words that provoke thought and appreciation of how the meanings can be twisted and made both humorous and reflective.
This was the second time the company visited Nederland and from the reaction of the crowd, it is a summer event that will be treasured each year.
(Originally published in the August 3, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)