Friday, February 26, 2016

'As You Like It' by William Shakespeare

26 February 2016

On Thursday I was at Cineworld in Milton Keynes to see the live broadcast of Polly Findlay's new production of 'As You Like It' at the National Theatre. This modern dress version of Shakespeare's reliable comedy is a lovely theatrical experience, dominated by a wonderful double act and a stunning coup de théâtre. Rosalie Craig as Rosalind and Patsy Ferran as Celia are both outstanding and form the warm, funny heart of the production. Ferra – who was Portia in Polly Findlay's RSC production of 'The Merchant of Venice' (reviewed here in August 2015) – is a great comic actor whose reactions tend to draw your attention away from whoever is speaking. And Craig's infectious smile forms the lasting impression of the evening, leaving the audience similarly grinning. The relationship between the two characters is natural and incredibly believable. The other star of the production is Lizzie Clachan's amazing set – and particularly its moment of transformation into the Forest of Arden which is worth the price of admission alone. I don't want to spoil the effect if you haven't seen it but this stunning use of the massive space in the Olivier Theatre will linger long in the memory. The other really innovative aspect of this production is the use of a choir, scattered amongst the trees of the forest throughout the play, who provide a variety of sound effects (birdsong, sheep etc) as well as performing some beautifully strange choral music composed for the production by Orlando Gough.

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