As You Like It reflects a more sophisticated and subtle exploration of the delights of love and the court-country dichotomy than some other Shakespearean comedies. No simple equations (country + simple = happiness; love + sincerity = lifelong passion) exist for such complex central characters as thoughtful and generous Rosalind, who, disguised as a boy in the forest, tutors her lover, Orlando, in how to woo a woman.
All the world's a stage, per Jaques's oft-quoted set piece. We players enter and exit, performing many, often contradictory, parts. The cycle of life remains constant, but one's role is always malleable as you like it.
Open-air theater itself affords a heightened commune with nature. Wind, ambient noise, and changes in light all influence one's perception of the piece and encourage a sense of freedom and rejuvenation. Ann Arbor is clearly hungry for this sort of enlightened production, one that takes advantage of treasured homegrown resources, natural and artistic. But as wildly popular as this annual event has become, sustained funding has proven elusive. Here's hoping its creators can find the resources to make it permanent. After four short years of Shakespeare in the Arb, it's difficult to imagine summer in the city without it.
[Originally published in June, 2004.]