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A review by Pauline Flannery for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

As You Like It

 

 

 

Michele Terry as Rosalind and Simon Harrison as Orlando in in Blanche McIntyre's production of As You Like It

Photo by Simon Kane

 

 

 

by William Shakespeare

 

Directed by Blanche McIntyre

 

Shakespeare’s Globe

 

15 May – 5 September 2015

 

 

As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies. And Blanche McIntyre’s scintillating production at The Globe is shot through with fresh ingenuity and clarity. It is complex. The play takes flight when the protagonists flee to the Forest of Arden, away from a court in chaos, treacherous words and twisted convention. McIntyre’s production begins with a funeral. All is silent save the beat of a drum. The court costumed in black is over-stuffed and over-coiffed, striking the first sombre tone which runs through this bitter-sweet comedy.

Kith is pitted against kin, youth against age as Rosalind, banished from her Uncle Duke Fredrick’s court, heads for the forest. Orlando, subjugated by his brother, also seeks sanctuary. With a smattering of fools and loyal retainers, the two fall in love, amidst the pastoral drollery of Audrey (Sophia Nomvete), Silvius (Jack Monaghan) and Gwyneth Keyworth as Phebe.

McIntyre’s meticulous production wrings the sublime from the sac - its esprit de Coeur is how to live well. The motley fools Touchstone (Daniel Crossley) and the melancholy Jacques (James Garnon) are at its centre. Touchstone turns native, Jacques rejects all. Contentment eschews high breeding in favour of the simple life. While ‘the antique world’ of Phil Witchurch’s loyal Adam and Patrick Driver’s Old Corin, adds flavour from summer’s last wine.
Set pieces are turned topsy-turvy -  Orlando’s pinning of his anodyne verse is seen against the ruthless Fredrick’s threats to Oliver; languor in one brother off-sets the tension in the other. Jacques’ All the World’s a Stage is cast as a series of questions; the staging of Hey Nonny Nonny a fusion between Wilson Keppel and Betty, and Riverdance. McIntyre has fun with casting too. Charles the Wrestler/Hymen (Gary Shelford) adds a touch of maverick gender-bending brawn, echoed in Rosalind’s glorious flourish at the end as she whisks off her skirt to reveal a doublet and hose.

The music, composed by Johnny Flynn, with a cast of instruments as evocative as the shipping forecast, Hardanger Fiddle, Nyckleharpa, Hurdy-gurdy and Bass Sackbut, is a summer’s balm set against an array of accents and bucolic colour schemes.  Yet this madcap world of juxtaposition and anachronism can produce the tenderest of moments: Orlando’s invitation to eat by Duke Senior, Old Corin’s simplicity or Rosalind’s sincerity at the end to resolve odd couplings.

McIntyre is excellently served by her cast. A passionate Michelle Terry is a dynamic, contemporary Rosalind, as inept in the antic of love as Orlando is at expressing his through ‘a false gallop of verse’; a fun-loving, airy, Ellie Piercy is Rosalind’s companion, Celia, while Simon Harrison’s Orlando is cut through like Brighton Rock, with muscular romantic lead. Yet the production’s touchstone is merriment, and in its latter-day clowns Crossley, with a nod to Eric Morecombe and Garnon, a striking Eddie Izard look-a-like, it excels. Go see it, for if love be mad then this dazzles the eye.

 

Simon Harrison as Orlando and William Mannering as Oliver in Blanche McIntyre's production of As You Like It

Photo by Simon Kane

 

 

http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/theatre/whats-on/globe-theatre/as-you-like-it-2015
Shakespeare’s Globe
New Globe Walk
SE1 9DT
Tickets from £5 to £43
Running time: 
approx. 3 hours including interval
 

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