Wednesday was a busy day for us, theater-wise.
We’ve signed up for a guided backstage tour for three straight years. They always take you to the same places in the 3 theaters, but we’ve had a different actor each year, and it’s interesting to hear the Ashland experience filtered through their individual lenses. Our guide this year was a young man who played Christian in Cyrano De Bergerac two years ago. We will be seeing him this year in On the Razzle. He’s married to an actress who is also a member of the company, and plays Rosalind in As You Like It. It wasn’t clear whether they met as members of the company, or accomplished the neat trick of separately landing positions and being able to work together over the extended season at Ashland. The actors work on one-season contracts. During the tour, he said that casting for next year’s season would be announced on Monday. Must be an exciting day for those two.
As You Like It
Ashland produced this play last in 2002. That year, they said that they were emphasizing the role of Rosalind as the more mature (as in wisdom, not age) of the pair of suitors (Orlando and Rosalind). In that production, the extended period in the Forest of Arden where, dressed as a man named Ganymede, she pretended to take Rosalind’s part as Orlando practices his mooning and courtship upon him/her, was posited as a period of tutelage, where she was “schooling” Orlando as a lover and a lifemate.
In this year’s production, Rosalind comes off as a little more ditzy and lovestruck, and with seemingly less of the moral authority that the more sober presentation in 2002 conferred on her. It’s interesting to me how different directors can cant a production and an interpretation of the same text in subtly different directions. Still, the cross-dressing convention allows her the latitude to basically drive the relationship, and in the plot and language, she is still by far the most interesting character in the play.
This play, by Lisa Loomer, is about a contemporary woman whose son is exhibiting the distressing symptoms of what we used to call hyperactivity. When they’re young, and we can devote all of our attention to them, a kid like this (and we had one in spades) is interesting and charming. As events move on, and you have to entrust them to the care of others who are not so enamored of and invested in their personal quirks, you are confronted, inevitably, with the specter of having a kid labeled, either clinically, or colloquially by his instructors, as ADHD.
As events unfold, it becomes apparent that her husband is without doubt ADHD and not nearly as ready to accede to the notion that there’s anything wrong with their kid. They work through a couple of layers of testing and psychiatry, and are eventually confronted with the binary choice of drugging or not drugging.
The writing is smart and snappy, reminding me a bit of Nora Ephron in its facile grasp of a multifaceted popular culture. I’d like to see more by this playright.