AS YOU LIKE IT
by William Shakespeare.
St Paul’s Church Covent Garden Piazza WC2E 9ED to 4 August 2012.
Mon–Sat 7.30pm Mat Fri & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2 hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 0871 230 0010.
Review: William Russell 2 July.
"The rain it raineth every day"?
Actually that song comes from another play by William Shakespeare, but the way this summer is proceeding, and since they have added a ballad or two, it could well be included.
Directed by Dan Winder, this promenade staging by Iris Theatre in the pretty gardens of the Actors’ church, should on a balmy summer’s night be quite enchanting, but when it rained cats and dogs it proved more of an endurance test for audience and cast.
It’s well enough acted, and everyone’s diction is commendable – in the open-air lines can get swallowed up or drowned in surrounding foliage, although the garden, surrounded on all sides by apartment blocks, has decent acoustics.
Unfortunately most of the players succumb to the curse of open-air performing – exaggerating facial expressions in the belief this helps get the words across. It does not.
Emily Tucker makes a spunky, diminutive Rosalind, although she never really convinces as a boy, but Fiona Geddes as Celia – a thankless role – overdoes the facial contorting. Joe Forte is a strapping Orlando, Heather Johnson a nicely bucolic Phoebe, but Tom Deplae’s Jacques fails to explain why he is so miserable in the beautiful bosky, given that everyone else is ignoring the weather and being merry (although he speaks the lines well enough).
As Touchstone, Diana Kashlan mugs like crazy, which is one way of approaching Shakespeare’s least funny, most irritating clown; it is not altogether her fault she is resolutely unfunny.
Christopher Rowland in several roles sings most of the songs charmingly but should stop smiling all the time, displaying his enviably pearly-white dentures, since some of the songs are melancholic.
Winder does a decent job moving the cast around gardens divided into various playing areas, there is some charming recorded bird-song in the background, and the production, set in no particular period, makes a reasonable introduction to the Bard; a large group of school children in the audience were all paying attention. When the sun shines it will give considerable pleasure, but, although done with commendable energy, it is a rough and ready affair at the best of times.
Jacques/Charles the wrestler: Tom Deplae.
Orlando: Joe Forte.
Celia: Fiona Geddes.
Adam/Corin: John Harwood.
Phoebe: Heather Johnson.
Touchstone: Diana Kashlan.
Duke Frederick/Duke Senior/Audrey: Matthew Mellalieu.
Oliver/William: William Reay.
Amiens/Hymen/Jacques de Bois: Christopher Rowland.
Silvius/Le Beau: William Towler.
Rosalind: Emily Tucker.
Director: Dan Winder.
Designer: Sophie Anastasiou.
Lighting: Benjamin Polya.
Sound: Filipe Gomes.
Composer: Candida Caldicot.
Musical Director: Ralph Hurwitz.
Movement: Stephanie Bradbury.
Choreographer: Holly Noble.
Costume: Tessa Battisti
Fight director: Roger Bartlett.
Assistant director: Claire Moyer.