Live theatre is a challenge, and one well met by Oklahoma City’s Reduxion Theatre. Congratulations to Tyler Woods, Artistic Director, and Erin Woods, Managing Director and director of the current, As You Like It. The new theater at 914 North Broadway, is an added and welcomed venue as actors can now honestly say they played on Broadway. With the location on Automobile Alley complete with restaurants with in easy walking distance and what seems to be ample night time parking, and general admission seating, it’s a win win for everyone.
Another win, is the way Reduxion Theater keeps the literary language of its classic plays intact, while experimenting with placing a classic in a particular historic or modern time setting with the aid of costuming, music and acting styles.
Redux-ion: from the lain “redux” (to revisit) and the process of “reducing” as a sauce in the culinary arts to its purest form – its essence.
The current production of the Shakespearean classic, As You Like It, continues that tradition as the language is in its purest form, while the “sauce” is flavored with the flower power of a recent contemporary age. In theory this placement works, as it was a time where women’s rights were beginning to come of age – and thus the two female leads of Rosalind and Celia, easily fit in to that philosophy.
The cast is outstanding, even if the eldest statesmen of the cast is too guttural in his diction, making his energetic yet effective character difficult to understand. In comedies Shakespeare presents many humorous play on words, and so to grasp the humor one must comprehend the words to appreciate the play on words. The rest of the cast has impeccable diction, which is mandatory when you want to savor each syllable of Shakespearean genius.
The “overture” of drums and rain sticks to accompany “Girl You Got Me” alerts the audience to be prepared for a juxtaposed evening. Many of the musical interludes between scenes, a Reduxion tradition, presents pedestrian singing (“May God mend your voices”) which distracts from the expertise of the actors. One such exception is Kimberly Franklin as Amiens, whose strong and pleasant voice is a stand out.
Actors, Ian Clinton and Kyle Whalen exhibit outstanding theatrical expertise, and while this is Kyle’s first show with Reduxion, we hope to see him in many upcoming productions. Lindsay Pittman and Rachael Barry as the two female leads are applauded for the flow of their character's language. While it may be appropriate for this production, their giddy adolescent best girlfriend portrayals can become a bit tiring.
As in Shakespearean times, the broad physical humor plays well and these “action” scenes are most welcomed. The wrestling scene of the first act works well, but the sound track for the humorous lip sync moment should have been much louder to accentuate and assist J. Collin Spring, in his well-done comic portrayal.
All in all, Reduxion’s, As You Like It, stirs the imagination as you see; Playboy bunnies, a John Lennon poetry night, Age of Aquarius tribal gatherings, a most beautiful India-styled lantern setting, a Maharishi, a ukulele, and an airport arrival, all acting as theatrical metaphors. Reduxion’s offerings are not common place, and isn’t that a refreshing experience where you never know what presentation will appear on stage, or literally in your lap?
As the inaugural play in the new theater building at 914 North Broadway Avenue in Oklahoma City, As You Like It, should be seen by all lovers of live theatre. It runs through March 1st, followed by Shakespeare’s Henry V, hinting perhaps at a Normandy invasion, from May 9 – 31st. Revisit the classics at www.reduxiontheatre.com or at (405) 651-3191.
(Terry Zinn is a playwright and actor, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oklahoma City University, and a Masters in Theatre from the University of Cincinnati.)