AS YOU LIKE IT To 26 March.


by William Shakespeare.

Rose Theatre 24-26 High Street KT1 1HL To 26 March 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 24 March 2.30pm (+ Touch Tour 1pm).
BSL Signed 25 March.
Captioned 18 March.
Post-show Talk: 16 March.
Runs 3hr One interval.

TICKETS: 0871 230 1552.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 24 February.

Thoughtful, lively revival with some intriguing performances.
In the current RSC As You Like It Orlando’s eldest brother appears reasonable till they’re alone together. Not so William Tapley in Stephen Unwin’s Rose revival. His distaste for young Orlando is apparent from the first. Soon, they’re throwing themselves at each other in long-held resentment – which neatly prepares for Orlando’s success against professional wrestler Charles.

All this fighting needs care on the uneven earth and leaf floor which, like Unwin’s production overall, becomes more effective once the action moves to the Forest of Arden. Paul Shelley seems happier as the benign ousted Duke Senior than with Duke Frederick’s arbitrary authority.

And in a production where verse-speaking isn’t the strength – both central women have limited tonal range and speaking is forced in a couple of minor roles – freedom to move swiftly around the forest, hiding behind a hillock, even washing in a decidedly off-colour puddle, brings a fresh spring to the evening as words increasingly find expression in physical action.

David Sturzaker is an impressive Orlando throughout, but it’s in Arden that Georgina Rich’s Rosalind shows her spirited initiative and strength. And her sexual ambiguity is made more complex when her commanding manner with Orlando turns to fainting and she becomes a lady who protests too much – or so Orlando’s brother thinks, clearly suspecting the nature of her counterfeiting.

It makes the point, that love is blind. So Rosalind can mislead the besotted Phoebe, just as Orlando’s the only one fooled when Rosalind pretends she’s a man playing the role of his love. Unwin ensures other characters’ suspicions about Rosalind’s identity are made evident without appearing forced. The adrenalin of romance shows its dark side is as a stag’s death becomes Celia’s fearful, grey-lit nightmare.

The most individual performances – aptly, considering their characters are individualists within the group – come from Adrian Lukis and Michael Feast. Lukis’s innovative Jaques has a melancholy tinged with contemplative wisdom and wondering, while Feast suggests Touchstone survives by sheer force, creating an intensity that lets him imagine the world in his own terms. No bad thing, when we’ve seen where institutional authority takes people.

Orlando: David Sturzaker.
Adam/Sir Oliver Martext: Shango Baku.
Oliver: William Tapley.
Dennis/Silvius: Leon Williams.
Charles/William: Okezie Morro.
Celia: Phoebe Fox.
Rosalind: Georgina Rich.
Touchstone: Michael Feast.
Le Beau/1st Lord/Jaques de Boys: Ravi Aujla.
Duke Frederick/Duke Senior: Paul Shelley.
Amiens/Hymen: Msimisi Dlamini.
Corin: Rod Arthur.
Jaques: Adrian Lukis.
Audrey: Claire Prempeh.
Phoebe: Georgia Maguire.
Ensemble: Tanju Duncan, Matt Enos, Margaret Garofalo, Rebecca Law, Naomi Marsden, Charlotte Metcalf, P J Muirhead, Hoolly Munson, Anna Springate-Floch.

Director: Stephen Unwin.
Designer: Jonathan Fensom.
Lighting: Mike Gunning.
Sound: John Leonard.
Music: Corin Buckeridge.
Movement/Fights: Kev McCurdy.
Assistant director: Jay Paul Skelton.

2011-02-28 15:10:24

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