Entertaining and Well-Choreographed, Valhalla performs Shakespeare Just As You Like It


Riya Kataria

High school students from all around FUSD performed in As You Like It.

Kayla Xu, Staff Writer

Shakespeare’s works tend to seem complex and unapproachable to most people. Usually our experience with any of Shakespeare’s writing is limited to reading Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet, and that’s usually because it’s required for our English classes. Personally, I rather liked reading Shakespeare for school, even if the language was difficult to understand. Because of that, I had fairly high expectations for As You Like It and I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

As You Like It is about a woman named Rosalind who’s caught in a power struggle between her father, Senior Duke, and her aunt, Francine Duke. The play was altered to be set during the 1990’s. Because of the change, a few lines of dialogue, along with the costumes, sets, and characters were adjusted to better fit the new era. In the Valhalla performance of the play, Francine had just recently exiled Senior Duke and taken over his company, Duke.com. To escape Francine’s tyranny over their lives, Rosalind and her cousin, Francine’s daughter Celia, escape to the Forest of Arden Bar dressed as brother and sister respectively in search of Senior Duke. There, they meet a slew of characters, including Orlando, estranged heir to a wealthy estate and the man Rosalind is in love with. This comedy really hits its high point when Rosalind, disguised as a man, attempts to teach Orlando how to woo his love, which just so happens to be herself.

Because of the 90’s twist on the classic tale, there were a few additions and alterations. These changes included the addition of a live rock band to perform some of the songs from the original play. The Elvis-ex-machina — replacing the role of the god Hymen in the original play— was completely out of the blue and had the audience roaring with laughter. Even with these changes, the actors established the relationships between the characters very well, despite the challenges of the Elizabethan language.

The first scene of the play was set in a garage apartment built off the right edge of the stage, one of the many amazing and sig set pieces in the show. Although the transitions between scenes at times were rather lengthy, being able to see how the crew moved the giant set pieces around the stage was an unexpected, but nonetheless entertaining addition to the show. The entire first act of the show contained well-choreographed set changes (shoutout to the technical departments).

Along the lines of choreography, the wrestling match in Scene Two was also well executed. Watching Orlando, played by Noah Dunlap (10), throw around Charles the Wrestler, played by Ritvik Kulkarni (10), was very entertaining and fairly convincing, considering Charles was trying to kill Orlando.

One standout character was definitely sophomore Jessica Haskin’s Rosalind, the female lead in the show. Haskin had a really good grasp of the Elizabethan language and managed to speak naturally, even in her numerous monologues. She and freshman Callan Engstrom’s Celia played a convincing cousin/sibling relationship that they maintained through the entire play. Another amazing performance came from sophomore Sonya Karpelevitch, who played Jaques, one of the characters Rosalind and Celia meet in the Forest of Arden Bar. Karpelevitch was tasked with reciting one of Shakespeare’s most famous monologues — “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” — which she performed almost effortlessly.

While well-performed, I think there are still a few things they could improve on. For one, showing anger, especially when it involved physical attacks, ie. pushing someone against the wall, seemed to be a struggle for some of the actors. The dialogue was also read a little too stiffly at times, and could do with more natural inflection.

Overall, I enjoyed the play, especially for its hilarious action, entertaining acting, and cohesive set pieces.