AS YOU LIKE IT
by William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Globe Tour to 10 September 2011.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 July at the Bodleian Quadrangle Oxford.
As a lot of people are going to like it.
If, as this play claims, all the world’s a stage, Shakespeare’s Globe is ensuring all England gets to see an Elizabethan stage in action, with both Hamlet and James Dacre’s As You Like It hitting roads around the country.
Dacre hasn’t fully allowed for the acoustic problems of a three-sided audience away from the Globe, but he’s made good use of the compact touring company – about a third the number of actors in most Globe home productions.
The result’s most intense in Jaques’ famous speech to a court exiled in the Forest of Arden, declaring the world’s a stage, then describing human life in seven ages. Needing three women for some scenes (four actually, but the ‘Audrey’ problem’s resolved by burlesque cross-casting and crafty use of a dummy), Jaques becomes Madame Jaques.
It’s more than a casting palliative. The ‘seven ages’ deepens into bitter grief at the soldier stage; war has deprived this woman of someone very close. The bitterness lingers against those who survive to become well-fed justices. Emma Pallant is the opposite of a philosophical melancholic; her character lives constantly in the depth of angry sorrow.
Even Gregory Gudgeon’s shambling Touchstone wouldn’t cheer her, despite the comic actions clarifying the bawdy meaning of several lines. They are poles apart, reflecting the struggle between negative and positive in the two Dukes.
There’s nothing negative about the young women who make their way to the forest. Jo Herbert’s Rosalind pushes to the front in early scenes when Orlando’s around, but it takes her “counterfeiting” as a man to explore fully her feminine nature.
And Beth Park’s happy, ever-responsive Celia’s not left in her shadow. Their double-act of spitting when they speak of men is a neat teenage joke hanging-over into lives suddenly made adult and independent. And moments of posing in Gunnar Cauthary’s fresh, eager Orlando suggests they’re not entirely wrong.
A fold-out rear wall from designer Hannah Clark turns from the bareness at court to a nocturnal forest. With fine playing – musical and theatrical – from the ensemble, who never stereotype the rustics, this is a likeable, intelligent revival.
Orlando: Gunnar Cauthery.
Adam/Touchstone: Gregory Gudgeon.
Rosalind: Jo Herbert.
Charles/Le Beau/Silvius: Ben Lamb.
Duke Frederick/Duke Senior/Audrey: John O’Mahoney.
Oliver/Amiens/Corin: William Oxborrow.
Jaques/Phebe: Emma Pallant.
Celia: Beth Park.
Director: James Dacre.
Designer: Hannah Clark.
Composer/Musical Director: Olly Fox.
Voice/Dialect: Martin McKellan.
Choreographer: Georgina Lamb
Fight director: Terry King.
Text associate: Giles Block.
Movement associate: Glynn MacDonald.
Assistant director: Daniel Burgess.
Assistant text: Christine Schmidle.