As You Like It
Theater Rhinoceros Studio, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), S.F.
Through April 1. Tickets are $12-20; call 861-5079.
The cast thrives under Melrose's direction, each actor turning in an inspiring, fresh performance that makes the production resemble an all-star ensemble piece. Bullard delights as a giddy Rosalind with a schoolgirl crush (as does Genevieve Lee as her demure cousin Celia), then transitions into a Ganymede dressed as a park ranger, retaining a bit of flirtatiousness under her counterfeit rough exterior. Orlando can be a thankless role -- he remains lovesick throughout -- but Bolster gives him an internalized tension that's waiting to burst. A mercurial David Sinaiko, in black-and-white makeup, balances the bawdiness and wisdom of the clown Touchstone in a standout act. Nathan Aaron Place is melancholy yet slyly humorous as the black-clad Jaques, creating memorable scenes with songster Amiens (William Martin). In a creative bit of double casting, William Boynton comes on first as a hilarious WWF-like Charles the Wrestler, then as a smitten Silvius in love with shrewish Phebe (Paige Rogers). Melrose's other double casting, of court and country folk (especially Kurt Gundersen as both the banished and the usurping dukes), neatly ties up the play's theme of counterfeit identities. You don't have to like Shakespeare to enjoy this not-to-be-missed production.