Kara's Insta Play Diary, #005
AYLI. INSTALLMENT 1 OF MANY.
I want to be in love with this production. There is just so much about it that absolutely delights me. Vibrant acting, a billion textual details that I can recognize and savor, powerful character relationships, and winning performances all around. I have just one quarrel: It doesn't seem to like Rosalind much.
Allie Babich is bright & passionate & a pleasure to watch, but as soon as she starts playing her games with Orlando, she is put in the unenviable position of the heroine no one likes. Celia is unenthused & disappointed, even horrified, at her silliness and her- occasionally, I warrant, truly disparaging- comments on the nature of woman. Orlando is sad and defeated. He doesn't take her comments well, held against the idea of his beloved, and he can't win against her wit.
But, in this production, Rosalind can't win either. If we want to favor her, be amused by her flights of fancy, impressed by her eloquence, entertained by her youthful caprice & spontaneous philosophy, we have to fight two sympathetic characters who don't like it. So does she.
Rosalind is not an ideal heroine. She is capricious, her motivations are a bit opaque & she is warped by the sexism that surrounds her as it would have surrounded her author. She isn't perfect, but she is brilliant. She is wry, inventive, full of heart, and deliciously self-determined. Plus, she's the only heroine in Shakespeare's canon who truly gets to dominate her play through the size of her role and the force of her personality. I would like to enjoy watching her. I'd even say we should enjoy watching her. But it's hard to love her when two people we also want to love find her words and actions trying.
All right. Now that's done. Future installments will contain my copious praise. This show made me feel and think a million things, and for that I thank it, and I love it well.