Search

As You Like It Review of RSC at The Barbican

PUBLISHED: 14:08 31 October 2019

As You Like It the RSC at The Barbica pictures by Topher McGrillis

As You Like It the RSC at The Barbica pictures by Topher McGrillis

Archant

A fresh, hilarious and gender-blind modern take on Shakespeare’s classic comedy of love and trust

As You Like It the RSC at The Barbica pictures by Topher McGrillisAs You Like It the RSC at The Barbica pictures by Topher McGrillis

Most comedy is no longer funny 400 years after it was written.

It takes an imaginative director like Kimberly Sykes to present it with the freshness and hilarity that it inspired in 17th century audiences. She is supported by Betta Gerecke's innovative lighting design, which maintains the link with the Shakespeare's day by including the audience in the performance, so it seems quite natural when actors address us directly.

On the other hand, the challenging set (Stephen Brimson Lewis) is pure 21st century.

The production sticks - more or less - to the original story about the loves and lusts, quarrels and cruelties, of Dukes and Jesters, sons and Daughters who, accustomed to luxurious, corrupt courtly life, find themselves, for a variety of reasons, among the poor simple folk of the Forest of Arden.

Here, in harsh conditions, they come to realise the value of true friendship, trust and love (a strong message for contemporary society). After a series of complicated and hilarious sub-plots, they all forgive each other and (mostly) get married and (presumably) live happily ever after.

You may also want to watch:

Here, the wedding scene is presided over by a giant puppet, which, under the direction of Mervyn Millar, appears at once powerful and benign - make of that what you will.

All this takes place in a 20t Century where people dye their spikey hair green or purple and wear eccentric clothes in fantastical styles and colours.

They leap and sing and dance, twist themselves into unlikely shapes as though performing in some ethereal circus. Simultaneously, they are serious - they fall desperately in love, they care for each other, they suffer.

Sexual orientation is largely irrelevant: the melancholy Jacques (an impressive Sophie Stanton) is female; the friendship between Rosalind, played with sensitivity and intelligence by Lucy Phelps, and the apparently frivolous but loyal Celia (Sophy Khan Lev) is as important as the love affair between Rosalind and the charming but somewhat dim Orlando (David Ajao).

Love is love, joyful and painful, whatever the gender whatever the century.

4/5

Until January 2020, (and on tour until 2020}

If you value what this gives you, please consider supporting our work. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Most Read

Latest from the Islington Gazette