What’s missing in the RSC entries — two of the five plays the company has brought to New York this summer as part of the Lincoln Center Festival — is a comparable joy. Indeed, the most exhilarating facet of the visit may be the extraordinary temporary theater that has been constructed in the cavernous armory: a tri-level playhouse with runway stage thrusting us into the action.
One is immersed in lucid demonstrations of technique from such fine young RSC actors as Katy Stephens, as a protean Rosalind in director Michael Boyd’s “As You Like It,” and Sam Troughton and Mariah Gale as the circa 2011 impulsive teens of Rupert Goold’s time-bending “Romeo and Juliet.” Off their lips and tongues, the poetry sounds grand — grander than in Central Park. And the dissection of text carries on in a profound manner: Troughton and Gale’s deft line readings in the balcony scene, for instance, suggest that the connection here is as much a flaring of adolescent intellect as flesh. These two conjoin as besotted AP students.
Yet you’re also left with the impression, especially in the weakest night, Boyd’s disappointingly inert “As You Like It,” of a self-conscious studiousness, an effort virtually to diagram the various thematic strands of the play. (The abstracted set and its gags — enter Richard Katz’s Touchstone, trapped in a bubble of brambles — come across aridly.) The deepening love between Rosalind and Jonjo O’Neill’s Orlando never becomes resonant.
The RSC visited the Kennedy Center annually for several years in the 2000s, and some of those visiting productions, such as 2007’s ferocious “Coriolanus,” evinced more of the company’s voracious attack of yore. Maybe a convergence is needed — more exchanges that are variations of the Anglo-American Bridge Project, currently starring Kevin Spacey in “Richard III” in London. Might the RSC ever entertain hiring a director like Sullivan? The Shakespeare Theatre Company had great success, for instance, importing Jonathan Mumby, a onetime RSC man, to stage Lope de Vega’s “The Dog in the Manger.” It’s high time that we did the reverse and showed British Shakespeare more of the Colonies' strengths.
Shakespeare in the Park
Through July 30 at Delacorte Theater, Central Park. Visit
Royal Shakespeare Company at Lincoln Center Festival
Through Aug. 14 at the Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Ave., New York. Visit