After a couple of weeks of watching the senior talent from the Stratford Festival showing off in Toronto, it was fun to see what the next generation of stars can do.
The members of the Birmingham Conservatory this year presented a terrific version of As You Like It. The Studio Theatre does not permit scenery or even much in the way of props, so plays must be done in a very stripped down manner. And a cast of ten requires almost everyone to handle multiple parts. These are two challenges for any company, but this group handled them beautifully.
Monice Peter was a very strong Rosalind/Ganymede, although she seemed oddly self conscious in the epilogue. Zara Jestadt was a charmingly funny Celia/Aliena. Edeoma Emesowum handled the transitions between her roles as Duke and Duchess with ease and managed to present a sincere and humble William as well.
The seven men in the group were also very capable of taking on multiple roles as needed. Emilio Veira was a charming Orlando, much more comfortable in the second act than the first. Zlatomir Moldonavski was excellent as the charming, but sleazy Touchstone. Rodrigo Belfuss was a wonderful Jaques. The stripped down staging put the focus on him and allowed the speeches to be the focus, something that did not happen in last summer’s main stage version.
Tim Ziegler was impressive as Charles the wrestler, and even more impressive as Audrey. He resembles his father, but his voice is the real give away. They sound alike. I enjoyed the performances of Nick Nahwegahbow, Thomas Mitchell Barnett and Farhang Ghajar all of whom had several smaller roles played to the same high standard.
Stratford in the winter is not a wasteland!