Escape to Arden! This year, Coos Bay Shakespeare in the Park will revel in the ridiculousness that is the comedy “As You Like It”. One of the silliest of the Bard’s silly plays, this story plays with the many ways love can go awry. A banished princess disguised as a boy draws the affection of a shepherdess who very definitively does not love the young shepherd who loves her. A neglected third son is infatuated with the same princess and makes friends with her alter-ego, totally unaware they are same person. A witty court jester loves a simple goatherd, a deposed Duke loves his merry men, and a melancholy philosopher loves the deer he has to eat. Crammed with word-play and jokes, nothing is safe from mockery in Arden. Femininity, masculinity, nobility, lovers, hunting, marriage, and horns are all skewered with equal energy in this free-to-the-public romp.
Under the direction Jane Stebbins, the Forest of Arden is a colorful cartoon enchanted wood. Zoe Shields is Rosalind, the banished princess disguised as a boy. Kevin Gowrylow, who appeared as Henry V in the 2017 Shakespeare in the Park production, plays Orlando, the outcast nobleman who loves her and writes bad poetry. Whirling around them is a tight cast of versatile actors, including Coos Bay Shakes veterans Alex Dresser and Alyssa Rejcek, experienced local performers Levi Goodman and Serena Waters-Collier; and exciting newcomers Brad Keith, Michael Burton and Kaitlyn Heitman.