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Review: Butler Theatre's 'As You Like It'

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3 stars

Butler University Theatre; directed by Tim Hardy; through March 6.

Do you like it long? As You Like It is long, too long, in fact three hours long, and I say that at the risk of sounding like a modern Philistine, all butt-antsy and wanting to multitask instead of focusing on the artful presentation of a stage production.

If I had my druthers and a pair of scissors, I would have cut out a couple love subplots, but there's nothing to be done with the out-of-the-blue complete character conversion (off-stage, mind you) of the play's antagonist (apparently, he finds religion). Billy Shakespeare, what were you smokin'?

Otherwise, this is a spirited and articulate cast, directed expertly by Christel DeHaan Visiting International Theatre Artist Tim Hardy. It's set in the 1950s which makes for some fun costuming, while happily avoiding any greaser cliches.

Everyone is strong here, even the "smaller" roles, and aren't college-aged actors the perfect vehicle for a script about love-crazed young people? There is much pleasure take from the performances of the key actors, including Stephanie Gray as Rosalind, Tyler Ostrander as Orlando, Megan Medley as Celia, the beguiling Matt Van Oss as Jacques, and a hilarious turn by Jill Harman as Touchstone.

Okay, you know how the story goes: love-at-first-sight, banishments, gender-bending dress, yadda yadda yadda, and it all ends up in quadruple wedding. Oy! Too bad the most compelling relationship on stage doesn't get to take a bow. The sparks truly fly when Gray's Rosalind and Medley's Celia interact; they're like a seasoned comedy team. When they're on stage, the time flies by.

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