“As You Like It” by William Shakespeare.
Nottingham New Theatre.
Nottingham New Theatre.
The play features one of Shakespeare's most famous and oft-quoted speeches, "All the world's a stage", and is the origin of the phrase "too much of a good thing".
Rosalind (Grace Williams), the Duchess Senior's daughter, is kept at court as a companion to her cousin Celia (Daniella Finch), Duchess Frederica's daughter. Both Duchesses played by Emma White.
Orlando de Boys (Hugo Minta), has been kept in poverty by his brother Oliver (Edward Marriott) since his father's death. Orlando decides to wrestle for his fortune at Frederica's court, where he sees Rosalind and they fall in love.
The Duchess banishes Rosalind, fearing that she is a threat to his rule. Celia, refusing to be parted from her cousin, goes with Rosalind to the Forest. For safety they disguise themselves - Rosalind as the boy Ganymede and Celia as his sister Aliena - and persuade the fool Touchstone (Eric Crouch) to accompany them.
On hearing of a plot by his brother to kill him, Orlando also flees to the Forest. Posting love lyrics through the forest, Orlando encounters Rosalind disguised as Ganymede. She challenges his love-sick state and suggests that he should prove the strength of his love by wooing Ganymede as if he were Rosalind.
Elsewhere in the Forest love also blossoms: the shepherd Silvius (Ian Sheard) suffers unrequited love for Phoebe (Leah Briers), who has fallen for Ganymede, while Touchstone is pursuing the goat-herd Audrey.
Oliver, sent into the Forest to hunt down Orlando, has his life saved by his brother, becomes filled with remorse for his past behaviour and falls in love with Aliena.
Frustrated by the pain of his love for Rosalind, Orlando is unable to continue wooing Ganymede, so Ganymede promises he will conjure up the real Rosalind and that all the lovers will finally be wed...
Well that's the quick version of this two and a half Shakespeare classic musical comedy.It's known as a musical comedy because of the number of songs in the play. There are more songs in it than in any other play of Shakespeare. These songs and music are incorporated in the course of action that takes place in the forest of Arden.
Other actors and characters in the play are Jacques (Chris Trueman), Adam (Jeremy Dunn) and an ensemble consisting of Chrissy Courquin, Rose Edgeworth,Miguel Barrulas and Beth Wilson.
This would've been the ideal introduction to Shakespeare for any first timer because it was a modern take and was extremely easy to follow the rich language of the Bard.
This cast though made Shakespeare's lines roll off the tongue with complete ease, as if it were their first language, and they delivered the many tongue twister script with a natural gait, albeit some parts may have benefited from being a little slower, but I suppose when you're in that Shakespeare moment, you just go for it.
The comedy shone through, especially with Eric Crouch's Touchstone. If you can imagine Joey from "Friends" doing Touchstone, as Joey, then you can imagine the great fun that was had in this production.
The whole cast though were just magical to watch and having that modern feel made it so fresh, thanks to the talented directorial skills of Felicity Chilver and the production merits of Joanne Blunt. It really drove home to me as well how bawdy the Bard was with this script. If "Carry On" films were around 400 years ago, Bill could have been a scriptwriter!
There was also many really physical sections in this play, mainly between Oliver and Orlando and Ted and Hugo really went for it, which was great for realism, probably not for Ted's health though.
From the set design (Joanne Blunt and Tom Proffitt) to the lighting design (Harry Bridge) and the sound design (Emma Barber) to the whole production and technical and stage crew, this is one of the best Shakespeare pieces I've seen for sheer entertainment value alone.
"As You Like It" is on at Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 10 December 2016. As I liked it? As I loved it more like!