However many tales of LA nightlife begin with, “I wouldn’t have known about it, if Goldstar hadn’t emailed me.” is anyone’s guess. As You Like It, written by none other than William Shakespeare, directed by Kenn Sabberton, was one such recent adventure. Staged and performed at the Japanese Gardens, nestled among pine trees and WWII-era derelict buildings of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare Center, As You Like It proved a highly clever comedy examining attraction, social structure, and wordplay all with the wit and brevity that history persistently preserves.
Actor John Lavelle, playing the capering Touchstone, stole the show with dances moves, physical comedy, and a twist of modern sass. Actress Tessa Thompson’s Rosalind also poked out from a well-rounded pack; all bright eyes and fist-biting sexual frustration, much to the delight of the audience.
Stage veterans Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG) and Diane Venora (Heat) also lent their gravitas to this well-oiled production. Venora’s Jacques gave several scene stealing turns and I was not surprised to read about her lifelong commitment to performing Shakespeare, in the program.
The staging and lighting were all handled professionally and several musical interludes helped break up the metered verse and provided a rousing outro at the end of the play. Set designer Gary Wissmann made use of the stage’s outdoor situation to gracefully and coherently switch between scenarios.
In the era of social media, streaming content, and video gaming, it was also not surprising to see the seat half-full, even on a Friday night. What struck this audience member was how unfortunate that fact was amid such a first-rate production. I’m not sure if Goldstar is still running that special, but if you make it to As You Like It, I recommend bringing a blanket and a picnic basket.
As You Like It runs until July 29th. Just in case you need any additional reasons to attend this fine performance, kindly see below…