Shakespeare in High Park

Nigel Shawn Williams directs a fresh production of pastoral comedy As You Like It

Presented by Canadian Stage in collaboration with the department of Theatre, York University
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Nigel Shawn Williams

Cast of As You Like It. Photo by David Hou.

Now in its 32th year, Canadian Stage's Shakespeare in High Park has long topped the list of must-do summertime cultural activities in Toronto. In keeping with last year's comedy/tragedy double-bill format, audiences can choose to see As You Like It and/or Titus Andronicus on alternating nights until August 31.

Thursday night's opening of As You Like It was both funny and heartfelt—a family friendly show directed by Factory Theatre's Nigel Shawn Williams. Inspired by 1950s France, the production features a superb cast and melodic songs and music by Sam Sholdice.

As You Like It centres around Duke Senior (Beau Dixon), who lives in the Forest of Arden after being exiled by his younger brother Frederick (Omar Alex Khan). The play follows Duke Senior's daughter, Rosalind (Amy Rutherford), who  is allowed to remain at court because of her close friendship with Frederick's only child, Celia (Chala Hunter). Rosalind falls in love with Orlando (Alexander Plouffe), a young gentleman of the kingdom who has come to court to compete in a wrestling match. The two lovers are separated when Rosalind herself is banished. 

Celia and Rosalind decide to flee to the woods. Rosalind disguises herself as a young man and renames herself Ganymede, Celia dresses as a poor lady and calls herself Aliena. Accompanied by the court jester, Touchstone (Sean Dixon), they join the Duke Senior and his supporters, including the melancholy Jacques (Jan Alexandra Smith) who delivers the play's famous "All the world's a stage" speech.

Meanwhile, Orlando also flees to the forest when he learns that his elder brother Oliver is plotting to have him killed. He does not recognize Rosalind in the guise of Ganymede, and she takes this opportunity to test the sincerity of his love for her. The result is a rollicking adventure of mistaken identities set against a romantic pastoral backdrop. 

Rutherford is perfectly cast as the complex heroine Rosalind. Her strong presence is complemented by Plouffe's charmingly lovesick Orlando, as well as solid comedic performances by the ensemble. Shauna Black is particularly funny as both Orlando's servant Ada, and the dim-witted shepardess Audrey.

As You Like It is a delightful summer treat. Pack a picnic and head to the park!

As You Like It runs until August 30 at the High Park Amphitheatre with performances on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8pm. Titus Andronicus runs until August 31 with performances on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 8pm. Each performance is pay-what-you-can, with a suggested contribution of $20. Visit for more information.

Show Dates: 
Thu, 2014-07-03 - Sun, 2014-08-31
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