The Rhode Island Shakespeare Theatre, dormant for almost 20 years, resuscitated itself a couple summers ago with a successful outdoor “Henry VIII” and spent the winter performing “Twelfth Night” at Roots Cultural Center in downtown Providence. TRIST now announces its latest venture, “As You Like It,” in three weeks of free performances at the Roger Williams National Memorial on North Main Street in Providence.
As usual, TRIST’s take on the play is anything but traditional. Director Bob Colonna (who also plays Jacques, Shakespeare’s version of Oscar the Grouch) says the play will be set “right where it is, in the middle of downtown Providence in a nice bit of park with stone walls, trees and picnic tables – and curious pedestrians and occasional siren interruptions.”
Rosalind (Kristina Drager) and Orlando (Patrick Cullen) will leave notes on the park’s trees and trade wisecracks with each other in their battle of hearts.
Clowns and characters abound in Shakespeare’s most romantic comedy. Touchstone (Mark Carter), a professional comic, is not crazy about trying to get laughs in the woods and spars with rustic Corin (Marc Kohler), who knows the ins and outs of country living. Love-smitten Silvius (Adam Buxbaum) follows the elusive Phoebe (Julian Trilling) around like a demented basset, but to no avail.
Treachery abounds. Charlotte Desrosiers’ Markey is the wicked Duchess who would cast poor Rosalind to the elements, while Ryan Hanley as Oliver plots to do away with his brother Orlando, using the mighty wrestler Charles (Bill Lange). Fortunately, there is Rosalind’s sidekick Celia (Lydea Irwin), whose nimble mind comes up with schemes to thwart the baddies.
And in the Forest of Arden, presided over by the kindly runaway Duke Ferdinand (Michel Lilly) love triumphs – even Touchstone manages to pick up a local girl, Vanessa Blanchard as Audrey, stealing her away from the hapless William (Filipe Fernandes), and music fills the air, words by Shakespeare, music by Tom Chace, and sung by the golden-throated Meryn Flynn.
“As You Like It” runs through June 17, Thursday through Sunday nights at 8 p.m. at Roger Williams National Memorial, 282 North Main Street. Admission is free. For any other information, call TRIST at 331-6118.