AS YOU LIKE IT
by William Shakespeare.
Clwyd Theatr Cymru (Anthony Hopkins Theatre) To 10 March 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Captioned 3 March 2.30pm.
Post-show Discussion 1, 8 March.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
TICKETS: 0845 330 3565.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 25 February.
Much good work in production triumphantly catching this comedy’s optimistic humanity .
Macbeth doesn’t usually come to mind in connection with this comedy, but they are linked in production style at Mold, where As You Like It shares with director Terry Hands’ superb 2008 Macbeth a bare wooden floor, white lighting (by Hands) and a stage extended towards the audience – some early speeches are made from the very front as much to the audience as to other characters.
While the tragedy voyages into solipsistic darkness and despair, the comedy is a journey towards enlightened humanity. Together, they reflect a Shakespearean pattern. Destruction descends suddenly and inexplicably, as with Iago searching for a reason for his hatred, or the unexplained jealousy of The Winter’s Tale’s Leontes, which leads to understanding of the waste of hatred and the joy of late-life reconciliation and renewal.
So a panel of bars divides the stage in the first part of Hands’ As You Like It, separating and imprisoning people amidst hatred. It colours Alex Felton’s Orlando, whose ill-treatment has left him angry, catching his supercilious older brother in an armlock that suggests he’ll put up a fine fight in the subsequent wrestling match.
Violent hate descends quickly for Rosalind, who curtseys politely as her friend Celia’s father enters and shocks her with banishment from court. As the friends escape, the resounding cry that they are going “to liberty and not to banishment” is the first rallying-call of hope.
It’s fitting that the interval comes after the play’s most negative moment, when Duke Frederick condemns Orlando’s cruel brother for unfilial behaviour, roaring angrily at him to leave.
After this the barred panel is moved, the stage open to the forest where banished Duke Senior and his men live contentedly. Hands doesn’t double the Dukes, as opposite sides of authority, but casts Robert Blythe, an actor fitted for informality and optimism, as the forest-dwelling Senior, contrasting Dyfrig Morris’s stern Frederick.
There might be more variety of vocal colour in the main female roles particularly, but this is a well-acted, detailed yet clear and unfussy revival, that revels in a fine score by Colin Towns. One not to miss.
Duke Frederick/William: Dyfrig Morris.
Rosalind: Hedydd Dylan.
Celia: Antonia Kinlay.
Touchstone: Christian Patterson.
Le Beau/Sir Oliver Martext: Michael Geary.
Charles: Kai Owen.
Duke Senior: Robert Blythe.
Jaques: Philip Bretherton.
Amiens: Paul Morgans.
1st Lord/Jaques de Boys: Daniel Hawksford.
Oliver: Daniel Llewelyn-Williams.
Orlando: Alex Felton.
Adam: Harry Dickman.
Corin: Ifan Huw Dafydd.
Silvius: Sion Pritchard.
Phoebe: Katie Elin-Salt.
Audrey: Elin Phillips.
Director: Terry Hands.
Designer: Mark Bailey.
Sound: Matthew Williams.
Composer: Colin Towns.
Musical Director: Greg Palmer.
Choreographer: Rachel Catherall.
Fights: Daniel Llewelyn-Williams.