Favorite Moment: As You Like It

David Furr and Lily Rabe. Photo by Joan Marcus.

There’s plenty to love in the Public’s As You Like It in the Park: the killer cast, the relaxed style, and the lucid storytelling for starters. Director Dan Sullivan’s interpretation puts to focus squarely on the text, so left to pore over the wordy jewels Shakespeare weaves into his story, you’re sure to encounter your own thematic insights.

I, personally, was most struck by the wonderful kindnesses in the play. Over and over, to degrees large and small, people expecting hardship and aggression encounter unexpected generosity.

My favorite of these kindnesses—and my favorite moment of this production—came when banished Orlando storms into the Duke’s forest campsite, momentarily holding the thoughtful Jaques hostage. “I almost die for food,” shouts Orlando, “and let me have it.”

The response of the onlooking Duke? “Sit down and feed and welcome to our table.” This immediate assent disarms Orlando. “Speak you so softly?” he says. “Pardon me I pray you.” Orlando then joins their woodsy meal as a brother, not a threat.

In this and other moments, As You Like It posits charity as the ultimate act of diplomacy. Not only does it diffuse tense moments, it turns enemies into friends, rivals into comrades.


The Walkout

Vera Farmiga in “Higher Ground (L), Lily Rabe & Josh Hamliton in “A Doll’s House,” (R)

“The Walkout:” It’s a perfect 11 o’clock moment, the instant your hero shouts, “Enough!” then marches out the door, leaving the familiar behind for the unknown.

A film and a play recently made Grade A hay out of this device. The former, Vera Farmiga’s “Higher Ground,” examines one woman’s journey in and out of faith; the second, “A Doll’s House” (which I saw in revival at Williamstown), presents a wife on the verge of implosion. Each woman makes a dramatic exit, and each gives a wrenching, climactic address explaining why she’s leaving and what she clings to as – click click – her heels take her into uncertainty and solitude.

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