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As You Like It

William Shakespeare
Globe Theatre, Globe On Tour
Globe Theatre

Emma Ernest as Rosalind Credit: Marc Brenner
Stephenson Ardern-Sodje as Orlando Credit: Marc Brenner
Colm Gormley as Jaques Credit: Marc Brenner

There was a smoother, quicker entry to the Globe Theatre for As You Like It than I’d first experienced under its recent COVID opening. Plenty of stewards were ready with advice on the entry procedure and the audience seemed more familiar with the drill.

Although we were asked to wear a mask for the performance, a good third of the audience on the lower level seemed to take that as meaning mask as you like it and left it off.

The production directed by Brendan O’Hea is confident, clear and unencumbered by props beyond a small blanket of food that the banished Duke-Senior (Sara Lessore) is able to offer the hungry Orlando in the forest of Arden.

There’s no attempt to push a particular interpretation, and we are left to imagine the difference between the grandeur of the court and the deprivation of exile. Jaques (Colm Gormley) is less melancholic than we might expect but gets a fair number of laughs, especially when he mocks Orlando’s love poems to Rosalind.

Of course, the play belongs to its main character Rosalind, forced into exile, disguised as a man and taking the name of Ganymede. She is given a bright, assertive and funny performance by Emma Ernest that melts even the slightly reserved presentation of Orlando by Stephenson Ardern-Sodje. It also wins the loyalty into exile of her long-time companion Celia played by Anna Critchlow, whose spirited arguments fiercely defend Rosalind against the stupidity of Duke Frederick.

This production may not be the funniest or even a particularly unusual performance of the classic fairytale comedy, but it is always clear, lively and entertaining.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna