It may be that the Acting Company troupe was tired in its recent performance of “As You Like It” at the La Mirada Civic (it plays UCLA tonight). Or it may be that the actors aren’t on top of their game yet--the company curriculum involves 47 weeks of rehearsal and performance, a short time for graduate students to master their craft.
In either case, the result was the same--a dutiful, listless production. Susan Finch and Michael McKenzie don’t generate much sexual or even romantic tension as Rosalind and Orlando. Finch, who has a good, rich, insinuating voice, is skilled as Rosalind kidding herself that love is transitory. McKenzie, slim and good looking with a strong, leading man’s face, conveys intelligent self-possession, a quality at odds with Orlando’s coltishness and joyous exuberance. He isn’t looking at her through Orlando’s eyes.
Kevin Jackson also has presence as the exiled Duke, a black prince of the forest who even in banishment hasn’t lost his sense of noblesse oblige. There’s a tempered anger and melancholy in Jackson’s Duke, trying to maintain civilization and courtly rank in the wild.
Anthony Powell’s Silvius and Mariangela Pino’s Phoebe have a nice moment together where she curls his hair in her fingers while thinking of Orlando. The performances fall off from there. Philip Goodwin is much too passionately indignant for the world-weary Jaques. Though Terrence Caza resembles the young Orson Bean somewhat, his Touchstone has no comedic presence. Generally speaking, the ensemble looks as if it’s still working on Shakespearean diction and movement. It hasn’t made the jump from technique to artistry.
Stephen McCabe’s set and costumes don’t help. The costumes of the court evoke the Art Deco ‘20s. What the forest design is supposed to convey is anybody’s guess. Mervyn Willis and Giles F. Colahan directed.