AS YOU LIKE IT: William Shakespeare
RSC – RST, Stratford Upon Avon
Runs: 3h 20, one interval
RST till 28 09, Newcastle Upon Tyne till 02 11.
Review: Alexander Ray Edser
Lovely – I wish I lived in the Forest too.
Maria Aberg has conjured up a powerful Forest for her production. The characters in the Forest (whether born there or living there for now) are as like to conjure a spell as they are a story. This is not fairy tale magic, but magic that belongs to nature – robust and real. It’s as real to these characters in their 1960s commune as it is to those who may believe in auras and crystals today. Aberg and her company treat it all with great respect and the characters flourish and blossom, peopling a production as glorious as any you’ll have seen.
The play begins in the formal settings of the ‘Court’. Right from the start these settings are nasty, vicious places – Orlando and his older brother scrap like yobs in a bar brawl. There’s a blood-lust among the courtiers that’s most unsavoury.
There is no doubt that this is Rosalind’s story; Pippa Nixon’s Rosalind is a lovely creation. She’s strong, completely likeable, we are hers from beginning to end. She is ably partnered by Alex Waldmann’s feet-firmly-on-the-ground, Orlando and Joanna Horton’s charming and funny Celia.
There are many joys throughout – among them Nicolas Tennant’s friendly, red-nosed, chubby Touchstone. Not certain where Oliver Ryan is going with his Jaques; it needs more time to develop and settle. Whether it will end up brilliant or a bold mistake, I cannot conjure a spell to say.
Laura Marling’s music beautifully encapsulates the tones of the play’s two settings; and all the wonders happen in Naomi Dawson’s spare and evocative settings.
Aberg’s attention to detail, wit and humanity have enabled her to create a production that’s a great delight.
Karen Archer – Le Belle/Second Page
Cliff Burnett – Duke Senior
Kiza Deen – Second Forest Lord
Daniel Easton – Dennis/Duke Frederick’s Lord
David Fielder – Adam
Dave Fishley – Sir Oliver Martext
Michael Grady-Hall – Silvius
Rosie Hilal – Audrey/Hisperia
Mark Holgate – Charles The Wrestler/William/Duke Frederick’s Lord
Joanna Horton – Celia
Chris Jared – Jaques de Boys /Amiens
Natalie Klamar – Phoebe
Pippa Nixon – Rosalind
Luke Norris – Oliver
Oliver Ryan – Jaques
Robin Soans – Corin
John Stahl – Duke Frederick
Samuel Taylor – First Forest Lord/First Page
Nicolas Tennant – Touchstone
Alex Waldmann – Orlando
Director – Maria Aberg
Designer – Naomi Dawson
Lighting – James Farncombe
Music – Laura Marling
Sound – Tom Gibbons
Movement – Ayse Tashkiran
Fights – Malcolm Ranson