Review: As You Like It

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Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour, As You Like It, William Shakespeare, St Nicholas Rest Garden, Brighton Festival, May 27.

TRYING to work out the complicated love triangles in Shakespeare’s classic tale can be testing at the best of times.

I faced a fresh challenge explaining the plot to my girlfriend, who had barely heard of Shakespeare in her home country abroad.

“Orlando loves Rosalind but she is dressed as a man and is testing his love. And this shepherdess Phebe loves her too thinking she is a man. But the shepherd Silvius loves Phebe and she ends up with him when she realises that Rosalind is a woman, and that she loves Orlando,” I explained, adding, as we watched a clown dancing a jig with a man wearing woman’s clothes: “And that man Touchstone is a fool.”

This was a rousing production by Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour and we both loved the merry mayhem.

Director James Dacre took advantage of the outdoor setting in the rest garden, which naturally complemented the pastoral idyll, with great effect – getting the actors to use the wider space and a set design which was simple but apt. Using the top of the wooden structure as a second stage was a smart idea which allowed the acting to run at a pace.

Jo Herbert’s Rosalind gave a manly sense in her Ganymede role, but her attractive qualities still showed through, and the switch between the two gender roles was done with ease. Gunnar Cauthery’s Orlando was boyish but energetic. His fight scene with Charles the Wrestler (Ben Lamb) drew a burst of applause – disturbingly so, when he ‘kicked’ the wrestler on the ground.

Musical interpretation during the play was a real delight with a tinkling of various bells and stringed instruments, and harmonious pseudo-folk singing. All-in-all, a superb production.

By Chris Eyte