Light-hearted and easy watching, Nottingham New Theatre’s As You Like It adds extra gags and a modern twist to the topsy-turvy world of Arden in this student-led production directed by Felicity Chilver.
As You Like It is jammed full of family feuds, match-matching and cross-dressing. Rosalind and her dear cousin Celia run away from the court, under assumed identities, to join the usurped Duke Senior (who is a Duchess in this version). Then, it’s as though everyone’s had a huge glug from Romilda Vane’s Love Potion, as everyone falls for each other left, right and centre.
Rosalind makes sure the love-struck Orlando knows how to treat a girl, whilst giving him life coaching dressed as a man, before craftily setting up a situation whereby everyone slots into suitable couples.
”When the action moved away from the court, the backdrop of sheets was pulled down to reveal the most fantastic set’’
When the play began the set looked bland, with draped white sheets marking the backdrop and a bare stage (I have to say at this point I really couldn’t understand why there were two names written under set designers). However, when the action moved away from the court, this backdrop of sheets was pulled down to reveal the most fantastic set, with different levelled platforms and a tree-house style construction which added to the forest feel.
This choice visually reinforced the fact that the court represented conformist society, whilst the forest offered a place of more opportunity and adventure.
”The elements of slapstick comedy that were introduced also made the experience of watching Shakespeare far less serious’’
Another element of the production that I really appreciated, with it being near the end of a tiring semester, was how easy the actors, and the directing of the play, made it to follow exactly what was going on at all times in the production. This was a welcome relief when the last thing you want is anything too brain-boggling at the end of a long day!
The elements of slapstick comedy that were introduced also made the experience of watching Shakespeare far less serious. Chris Trueman certainly deserves credit for his well-paced and compelling “All the world’s a stage” monologue; his voice has a such a distinct, measured quality that I hope audiobook recording companies track him down to offer him a grad job!
Equally, Eric Crouch’s Touchstone is definitely worth a mention, since he seemed to have limitless energy and a natural flair for comedy that had everyone giggling throughout. His squabbles with Celia, played by Daniella Finch, were also great fun to watch!
”The warmth between the actors was really clear to see and added to the fun – certainly the scenes with greater numbers of characters on stage tended to be the most captivating’’
The dynamics of the relationships between the characters were well-performed too, with Rosalind and Celia, Ganymede and Orlando, and Oliver and Aliena all making great double acts.
Watch out for the tiny Aliena standing on Oliver’s shoes while they dance! The warmth between the actors was really clear to see and added to the fun; certainly the scenes with greater numbers of characters on stage tended to be the most captivating. Finishing with the banger ‘Geronimo’ and a jig was also a sure way to have the audience leave on a high!
Take a break from end of term Christmas film binge watching and go see As You Like It which runs until the 10th December.
8/10 – Excellent, highly enjoyable
Image courtesy of the Nottingham New Theatre
‘As You Like It’ is running at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 10th December. For more information and where to find tickets see here