Ten Thousand Things Theater Company is known for stripping down plays to their bare essentials. That makes them easier to perform in unusual settings, like prisons, homeless shelters and rest homes.
For its latest production, TTT took on Shakespeare's "As You Like It," and is bringing to life a show featuring dozens of characters with just six actors. The result has captivated local critics. Read on for excerpts of local reviews, or click on the links to read them in full.
Ten Thousand Things Theater Company almost always handles Shakespeare with a deft and knowing hand, but even by its own high standards, the company's staging of "As You Like It" is a top-notch production, filled with love and laughter, the bittersweet tang of longing and the redemptive power of possibility.
This As You Like It is stripped down and highly edited. Does it require familiarity with Shakespeare's original? I thought about this at some length and finally decided that while it helps to have seen more straight-forward productions (or to have recently spent some time with the text) this is optional. TTT performs at prisons, chemical dependency treatment centers, rest homes and for many this is their first Shakespeare. As artistic director Michelle Hensley says, these people exhibit a real "hunger for language." This play plays... As You like It is one of the best shows I've seen in a while.
Folks tend to be far more engaged in the production than traditional theater audiences. This came out in the first performance of the show, when the audience -- rather vocally, Reyes says -- wanted Rosalind to come clean much earlier about her disguise and her love of Orlando.
They certainly were engaged last Friday afternoon, even if it took a bit for everyone to adjust to the Shakespearean syntax. Lear de Bessonet's quick-paced creation not only wrestles plenty of laughs, but also gets to the deep heart of the play.
The soul of this piece, however, reveals itself in actor Pearce Bunting, a relative newcomer to the Twin Cities stage. Bunting nimbly flexes between Touchstone -- played as a Brooklynese sharpie -- and Jacques, the dispirited traveler. His visage and manner bear the full weight of experience as he tells us that "All the world's a stage." That famous speech of humanity's circular and hollow drama lands fully in our hearts. Bunting is an actor of authentic and sympathetic depth.
Have you seen TTT's production of "As You Like It?" If so, what did you think? Performances run through March 11.