A few thoughts about AYLI after watching it last night (I've been in two productions.)
1. Rosalind has to be played as an emotional 'chord,' not merely in one note. If she's just hurt, she sours the fun. She really needs to enjoy her own wit, unleashed as if it were a flock of wild birds, by exile in the forest of Arden.
2. I didn't realize until now how important Celia is to lifting the mood and reminding the audience of the basic comic set up; she's the audience avatar, rolling her eyes at Rosalind's antics.
3. I've seen Orlando as lovable dummy and just a clod. I like him as a lovable dummy.
4. The best Audrey I've seen yet was Traci Lavois Thiebaud's in 2009 at UH. She nailed it (the rest of that cast was also great.)
5. AYLI isn't my favorite Shakespeare play or even Shakespeare comedy; there's something about it that makes it difficult to play. My favorite production, so far, was the 2009 UH production--directed by Jonathan Gonzalez--which was helped immensely by the youthful and unruly energy of both the grad and undergrad actors in the cast; that the cast was having so much FUN made the play more fun than I've seen it elsewhere.
6. Ellen Burstyn in last night performance as Jacques WAS very moving in the Seven Ages of Man speech, especially near the end, when we felt how close she is herself, in her lean and slippered pantaloon, to the last stage. Most touching, dread-filled moment in the show.
7. As I learned at ASC, if actors are going to address the audience directly, they must do it 'for real,' engaging ONE audience member at a time, and for at least a full phrase, otherwise we smell b.s. Thank you, Jim Warren, for this enduring lesson.
8. In the epilogue, Shakespeare tells us not only what his modus operandi is for THIS play, but for all of them, especially the 'Romances.' He's telling us not to get stuck in our head.
9. For any Shakespeare: it's not necessary to 'frame' the story with an artifice meant to explain away why characters who are related to one another are played by actors of different ethnicity. Just let it go. We get it. I experienced that trick in last night's production as condescending and out of tune with the times we're in.