As You Like It

William Shakespeare
The Globe Touring
Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond (N. Yorks), and touring

As You Like It promotional photo

If any of Shakespeare’s plays could be described as a Fairy Tale, As You Like It would be such a play. A more descriptive title would be Love in a Forest where lions live and olives grow. A fanciful place where marriages are made into sport and gender becomes the fool; a place where Dames are men and Principal Boys women. But what a frivolous confection of comedy love is in the hands of these players. Such is the skill of this company that every word is crystal clear and every song, even the melancholic, has feel-good factor. The story bristles with ambiguity, intimacy and amorous tom-foolery where wry comments are contrived to spin on a nod to the knowing spectator.

Rosalind is the daughter of a banished duke who falls in love with Orlando at a wrestling match, but her usurping uncle, jealous of her popularity, banishes her from court. Disguised as a boy she seeks out her father and his friends in the forest where she meets Orlando and in the guise of a young man, counsels him in the art of love.

Emma Pallant is a joy to watch as Jaques and Phebe; Beth Park’s Celia is a constant delight and Gunnar Cauthery’s Orlando is as feisty as Gregory Gudgeon’s Touchstone is achingly funny. Jo Herbert has acres of talent as Rosalind and the whole idea of a band of strolling players performing this play is a master stroke. If there’s a seat left at the end of this run I’ll be surprised.

Reviewer: Helen Brown

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