AS YOU LIKE IT
by William Shakespeare.
The Old Vic The Cut SE1 8NB In rep to 21 August 2010.
Runs 3hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7628. (£3 transaction fee – does not apply to supporters of The Old Vic).
Review: Carole Woddis 23 June.
A Bridge not quite far enough.
The Bridge Project is back in London. After last year’s success with The Winter’s Tale and The Cherry Orchard, the trans-Atlantic `special relationship’ continues with a double dose of Shakespeare. The final leg of an extensive international tour, you might think such ambition would leave its mark in terms of jet lag.
Happily, there’s not too much sign of it in As You Like It though The Tempest is another matter.
As an experiment in cross-cultural exchanges, The Project certainly seems to be proving that American and Brits do speak the same language if not always with a similar style. The Brits tend to play it casual, the Americans statuesque. Generally, as in movies, the Brits get cast as the villains.
So it is in As You Like It, the sunlit `comedy’ with darker undertones. Sam Mendes modern-dress production emphasises its wintry, shadow side with some unusually violent authority figures. We even get a touch of neo-water-boarding from Michael Thomas’s usurping Duke Senior.
As Rosalind, Juliet Rylance – Mark Rylance’s daughter – makes an engaging heroine: bright, resolutely sparky and perkily mercurial as the androgynous Ganymede. But she has to work hard, matched as she is by Christian Camargo’s Orlando.
Given that Camargo doubles up as Ariel in The Tempest – perhaps one of the disadvantages of ensemble casting – his initially promising firey younger brother descends into a Hamlet-like melancholia from which he seems incapable and unwilling, Rosalind notwithstanding, to free himself.
Elsewhere, the production provides some delightfully fresh visual and interpretative touches. As a play about the giddiness and illusion of love, the production is bathed in a golden glow whilst not forgetting its contrasting harsher political and parallel realities. But the play’s inherent sexual and emotional ambivalences remain undeveloped as too its metaphysical backbone of self-knowledge.
Its glory is Stephen Dillane’s Jaques. His delivery of `All the world’s a stage’ lends the term `world-weary’ a whole new depth even as his verse from the .Under the Greenwood Tree’ rendered à la Bob Dylan brings the house down. Brilliance is the word, and he has it.
Orlando: Christian Camargo.
Adam/Sir Oliver Martext: Alvin Epstein.
Oliver: Edward Bennett.
Dennis/William: Ross Walton.
Charles/1st Lord: Ron Cephas Jones.
Rosalind: Juliet Rylance.
Celia: Michelle Beck.
Touchstone: Thomas Sadoski.
Le Beau: Jonathan Lincoln Fried.
Duke Frederick/Duke Senior: Michael Thomas.
Amiens/Jacques de Boys: Richard Hansell.
Corin: Anthony O’Donnell.
Silvius: Aaron Krohn.
Jaques: Stephen Dillane.
Audrey: Jenni Barber.
Phoebe: Ashlie Atkinson.
Director: Sam Mendes.
Designer: Tom Piper.
Lighting: Paul Pyant.
Sound: Simon Baker for Autograph.
Music: Mark Bennett
Music Director: Stephen Bentley-Klein.
Choreography: Josh Prince
Costume: Catherine Zuber.
Hair/ Wigs: Tom Watson.
Fight director: Rick Sordelet.
Co-commissioned by and produced in association with Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Neal Street, Claire Béjanin, Centro Niemeyer, Holland Festival, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, Singapore Repertory Theatre & Theatre Marigny, Paris.