Jaine Ye as Rosalind, A.J. Baldwin as Duke Frieda, Rebecca Ho as Celia, and Katie Mitchell as Second Lord in “As You Like It” at the Theater at Monmouth. Photo by Kat Moraros Photography

A character famously announces that “all the world’s a stage” in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” a highly entertaining production of which is now running in the Theater at Monmouth’s elegant home at Cumston Hall.

The world of this classic comedy can be complicated for those struggling through flawed relationships and pursuing short-sighted ambitions. But can political and personal rivalries dissolve when love is in the air?

In the magical forest of Arden, in which exiled nobles must mingle with fools, philosophers and various rustic characters, anything might happen. And that everything eventually skews toward the good makes the play a hilarious delight.

Rosalind, daughter of defeated Duke Senior, is banished from court by the victorious Duke Frieda. Frieda’s daughter, Celia, leaves with her and the two cousins/friends travel to the forest where Rosalind, after having sparked a romance with Orlando, a young man oppressed by his older brother, transforms herself by disguise into a man resigned to a lonely existence.

Of course, the lovestruck Orlando reappears, along with a large handful of characters possessing various levels of eccentricity, and a wild and witty journey where reconsideration of interpersonal roles leads to a blossoming of love and forgiveness among nearly all.

As Rosalind, Jaine Ye, grows her initially uncertain character toward the take-charge, gender-bridging person who can pull all the play’s parts together by the end. Sweetly tentative, but still assertive, Ye is fun to watch while working through this complex role.


Rebecca Ho is a scene-stealing delight as Celia. Her comedic attitudes draw the eye, as do her offbeat responses to the action underway.

Zack Lopez Roa is a poetically inclined Orlando who is bewildered about the disguised romantic testing of Rosalind. Theater at Monmouth favorite A.J. Baldwin is a powerhouse Duke Frieda. In the world of a play that leans toward the gentler sentiments, she’s a loud and scary tyrant.

A little contrasting of ideas from wise man Jacques (Michael Wood) and ineffectual brother bullying by Oliver (Christopher Blonski) deepens the unease. Mark S. Cartier as the loyal Adam and Robbie Harrison as the loquacious jester Touchstone even things out a bit. Shakespearean nuggets of wit and wisdom abound.

Tracie Lane and Katie Mitchell play frisky shepherdesses, while Christopher Joel Onken is fanciful dandy LeBeau. When not playing a shaky romancer, Tommy Vest, as he-man Charles, gets to wrestle a nimbler Orlando in a fine action scene (thanks to Fight Director Sally Wood). Multiple roles keep half of the cast especially busy in this under-two-hour production.

Shades of forest green highlight the set by Dan Bilodeau, while Michelle Handley’s generally period-centric costumes, from rustic to refined, along with brief bits of countrified folk music, add much to this Dawn McAndrews-directed romp.

It’s a spirited production of one of the Bard’s most happily entertaining and gently uplifting works.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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