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Shakespeare comes alive in Elkins

What a delightful 90 minutes of Shakespeare we saw Sunday night!

The Augusta Pavilion at Davis & Elkins College was the perfect place to imagine that we were in a sylvan setting like the Forest of Arden back in merry old England.

The Shinnston-based Rustic Mechanicals Troupe under the leadership of Jason Young partnered with the D&E Theater Department to make magic happen on that rainy night.

“As You Like It” was casual with modern country clothing and 20th century music, and the audience did like it.

Assistant Professor of Theatre Bridget Rue Esterhuizen brings invigorating new energy to D&E College and to the cultural renaissance of Elkins. She is not only a fine actress herself, but she recognizes the significance of her role as a person who can help others to see the lighter side of social change.

In this time when the news is so full of stressful topics, it is good to laugh a little.

Bridget’s Rosalind is a feisty lady both in her role disguised as a male magically transformed into a beautiful female in the play and in her real life.

While she rehearsed for this play, her four-month-old daughter was waiting in the wings. Along the way she has gained understanding of Shakespeare while working under director Jim Warren, co-founder of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia, and he directs the Rustic Mechanicals production of “As You Like It” this summer.

Daniel Crowley is the wonderfully spontaneous fool named Touchstone who accosts a member of the audience to talk about the cut of his beard. Wearing shorts and a clown’s red-ball nose, Touchstone says, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” Crowley brings Shakespeare’s language to life happily.

Jason Young has the most famous lines in the play in the role of Jaques, one of the idle courtiers in the Forest of Arden who says:

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts….”

Young has brought several Rustic Mechanicals plays to our local Arts Center in Elkins over the last few years, and I hope he and Esterhuizen will collaborate on more plays in the future.