AS YOU LIKE IT To 6 August.


by William Shakespeare.

Royal Exchange Theatre St Ann’s Square M2 7DH To 6 August 2011.
Mon-Fri 7.30pm Sat 8pm Mat Wed & Sat8 Feb 2.30pm.
Audio-described 30 July 2.30pm.
BSL Signed 2 August.
Runs 3hr 5min One interval.

TICKETS: 0161 833 9833.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 July.

Fun in the forest.
The Exchange year began last September with a darkly adventurous Dr Faustus. As if to mark the summertime, and emphasise how varied an afternoon at the Elizabethan theatre could be, comes Greg Hersov’s end-of-term As You Like It, rounding-off the year.

Not that it’s Ye Olde Elizabethan. From the electric guitar-straddled ‘Troubadour’ plucking away as the audience enters, through wrestler Charles’s appearance in a showbiz outfit that’s an extreme of the modern-dress climate, to Cush Jumbo’s Rosalind doing the streetwise effnics as her Ganymede plays Rosalind with Orlando, life outside shows its repeated influence.

So, the Forest of Arden is a forest of loudspeakers, green or brown according to season, while the god Hymen’s voice issues from a tangle of speakers late on. And it’s party-time throughout, with some latterday masquerade at usurping Duke Frederick’s and, in parallel, some Arden festivities for Duke Senior and his men.

The bright wash of designer Ashley Martin-Davis’s floor-cloth gives Arden a holiday happiness, rather than the wintery blast it can often be. It doesn’t make much interpretative space for the melancholy Jaques, but as his positive counterpart Touchstone, Ian Bartholomew has fun – with adequate sun-block – impressing country-girl Audrey, protected by her dimness in Victoria Elliott’s happy lass – and turning his last-act routine of the seven degrees of lie into an audience-participation party-piece. It fits better here than Jaques’ sadder seven ages speech.

Terence Wilton is another good actor you can’t keep down; his Duke Frederick is especially strong. He may not throw aside the purse he was about to give Orlando when he learns his name (as happens in the current Globe tour), but the souring expression, and a sense of not understanding the wave of repulsion is strong, as is a similar souring towards Orlando’s unfraternal brother Oliver, when he proclaims his hatred for Orlando.

Good fun, if rarely penetrating into the script. It does this best at the edges, with both modernity and music established at the start, and at words’-end in Rosalind’s epilogue, where Jumbo’s slow, silent movement seems to trace patterns of experience and wonder that speak volumes.

Orlando: Ben Batt.
Adam/Corin: Peter Ellis.
Oliver: Gyuri Sarossy.
Dennis/Montaigne/Jaques de Boys: Bryn Holding.
Charles/Du Champ/William: Youssef Kerkour.
Rosalind: Cush Jumbo.
Celia: Kelly Hotten.
Touchstone: Ian Bartholomew.
Le Beau/Jaques: James Clyde.
Duke Frederick/Duke Senior/Sir Oliver Martext: Terence Wilton.
Amiens: Howard Hutt.
Silvius: William Postlethwaite.
Audrey: Victoria Elliott.
Phoebe: Zora Bishop.
Troubadour: James Dey.

Director: Greg Hersov.
Designer: Ashley Martin-Davis.
Lighting: Chris Davey.
Sound: Peter Rice.
Composer: James Dey.
Voice/Dialect: Joe Windley.
Fights: Kate Waters.

2011-07-25 08:58:03

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