As You Like It, William Shakespeare, RSC Stratford Upon Avon, 3***: Rod Dungate

Stratford Upon Avon

As You Like It: William Shakespeare



Runs 2h 55m, one interval, till 31 August 2019 22 February



Review: Rod Dungate, 2 March 2019

This is not a strong production, though somewhat saved by its second half and some strong playing from many of the Arden folk.

There are several reasons behind its flaws. Kimberley Sykes, who directs, has focused more on diversity of characters and casting than she has on the meaning of the play, so that the whole feels ramshackle and lacks forward motion. The central characters (Rosalind, Orlando, Celia) are nicely enough characterised by the young actors but they lack the physical and vocal skills to bring depth and flexibility to their creations; the text is spoken (or frequently shouted) but feels empty. Stephen Brimson Lewis fails in his setting to distinguish between Court and Arden this may be a novel idea but it destroys the structure and meaning of the play – and worse, it is boring.

Lucy Phelps and David Ajao (Rosalind and Orlando) fail to really bring us into their world, and there is a surprising lack of electricity between them. Sophie Stanton Creates a rounded Jaques but is too withdrawn so, once more, we struggle to engage.

It feels as if Sandy Grierson (Touchstone) is driving this production along; however this does not allow him the lightness of touch he needs to release the comedy.

In the second half we are much relieved at the appearance of the man folk inhabiting the Forest of Arden. Laura Elsworthy and Charlotte Arrowsmith (Phoebe and Audrey) are a delight to watch. Tom Dawze in the easy-to-miss role of William totally endearing.

Sykes is orchestrating the production has either ignored or missed the subtleties of the text and the changes of rhythm; nowhere could this be more obvious than the beautiful section in which Rosalind leads us into the masquelike final sequence. A sadly missed opportunity.

Rosalind: Lucy Phelps

Duke Senior / Duke Frederick: Antony Byrne

Celia: Sophie Kahn Levy

Touchstone: Sandy Grierson

Amiens / Le Beau: Emily Johnstone

Charles: Graeme Brookes

Oliver: Leo Wan

Jacques de Bois: Aaron Thiara

Orlando: David Ajao

Adam: Richard Clews

Dennis: Aaron Thiara

Jaques: Sophi Stanton

Corin: Patrick Brennan

Phoee: Laura Elsworthy

Sylvia: Amelia Donkor

Audrey: Charlotte Arrowsmith

William: Tom Dawze

Martext: Karina Jones

Lords: Graeme Brookes, Alex Jones

Director: Kimberley Sykes

Set Designer: Stephen Brimson Lewis

Costume and Lighting Design: Bretta Gerecke

Composer: Tim Sutton

Sound Design: Jonathan Ruddick

Movement: Ayse Tashkiran

Fights: Rachel Brown-Williams, Ruth Cooper-Brown

Puppetry: Mervyn Miller

Voice and Text Work: Cathleen McCarron

Assistant Director: Emma Baggott

Music Director: Garth Ellis

Associate Music Director: Lindsey Miller

Casting Director: Hannah Miller

Production Photo Topher McGrillis (c) RSC


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