Last summer in New York's Central Park I saw an incredible production of As You Like It
. The comic tale was unchanged—after Rosalind's uncle banishes her from court, she disguises herself as a man and hides out in the Forest of Arden—only here, the forest was made of actual foliage, in the open-air Delacorte Theater. However, the story was relocated to a different continent; the mistaken identities and falling in love took place in the backwoods of the 19th-century American South, punctuated by Steve Martin's lively bluegrass score. These devices, and Lily Rabe's memorable performance as Rosalind, made this the funniest, most engaging production of a Shakespearean comedy I'd ever seen.
Bare Theatre takes a page from Shakespeare in the Park's book with this production directed by Heather J. Strickland. Presented on RLT's outdoor stage by the rose garden, this As You Like It is set in the Appalachian woods, with original bluegrass music from Greensboro band the Zinc Kings. If the musical gimmick and country adaptation work half as well as they did in Central Park, this will be the perfect way to close out summer.
—Emma D. Miller