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A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

Iris Theatre presents

 

As You Like It

 

"Sweet lovers love the Spring..." Emily Tucker and Joe Forte in As You Like It

Photo by Hannah Barton

 

by William Shakespeare

 

Director - Dan Winder

Designer - Sophie Anastasiou

Producer - Patrick Collier

Music Director - Candida Caldicot

Costume Design - Tessa Battisti

Sound Design- Filipe Gomes

Lighting Design - Benjamin Polya

 

Actor’s Church - St. Paul’s Covent Garden
 
28 June - 4 August 2012
 

 

Beginning on front court, As You Like It opens with a vicious bout of sibling rivalry between Oliver de Bois (William Reay) and his brother Orlando (Joe Forte) which settles the school group in attendance into attention and attracts a little more stillness from passersby at the church gate. I mention this by way of introducing a production which is steadfastly absorbing from beginning to end, as the audience follow the cast through the grounds and church of St Paul’s, from Court to boxing ring to the Forest of Arden, in an engrossed condition. At said boxing ring, Rosalind (Emily Tucker) makes her first appearance, and her audacious temperament is immediately apparent. When, banished from court she takes to the woods in disguise as Ganymede with her Cousin, Celia, (Fiona Geddes) it is no surprise that she takes control of their adventure, donning breeches and leading the cast of eleven through the web of idyllic pastoral scenes by set designer Tessa Battisti.

Touchstone, (Diana Kashlan) the “motley fool” of court, who Rosalind and Celia take to the woods for their entertainment, arguably owns some of the finest lines in Shakespeare’s canon, and delivers them with wicked composure and often fearsome gait. Touchstone’s costumes, designed by Sopia Anastasiou, in line with all the costumes, are visually outstanding, true to the setting, whist also providing a charming spectacle. Music is interspersed throughout, with the cast finding guitars, drums, violins and a piano at their convenient disposal, and while the chirpy tunes run their course the more visceral, compelling drumming and piano are well situated for theatrical enhancement.

The quality of acting is second to none. John Harwood is laudable as Adam, Orlando’s generous and faithful servant, and again in his other incarnation, Corin, a country shepherd. Scarcely has malcontent Jaques been played with such perfectly balanced comic melancholy as by Tom Deplae who, full sure of his significance in this thoughtful pedestrian production, whiles away the evening speaking his mind as though he were among intimates. Orlando and Rosalind’s romance develops in fluid, exiting steps in the hands of Emily Tucker and Joe Forte, whose command of the script and of each other certifies dramatic intensity. A group of less adept, less attractive and less impulsive lovers form a comparative backdrop illuminating their impenetrable bond even further.

 

 



It rained for best part of the night and one can’t help but hope for a balmy spell before the end of the run and the chance to go bask in this delightful production in comfort. In a way though, the rain added another dimension to an already intricate production, when, at one point Amiens (Christopher Rowland) cheerfully sings a tune in praise of pastoral life “No enemy but winter and rough weather” whilst the entire audience form a ring of damp but delighted fools under a tree in Arden.

Iris Theatre’s As You Like It is a poignant, vivid amble through the ultimate tale of summer love and romance in the face of adversity. Leaving St. Paul’s after the much anticipated event at the close of the play, the sense of community which Director Dan Winder promotes in his introduction to the production was conspicuous and heartening.

 

 

The Seven Ages of Man - John Harwood and Joe Forte in As You Like It
Photo by Hannah Barton

 

Actor’s Church - St. Paul’s Covent Garden
Bedford St. London WC2E 9ED
http://www.iristheatre.com/
Tickets £14 / £10
 
 
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