s I tweeted this morning to ems
, who's been rather evangelical about this production (for reasons that I'm sure are unconnected to her retweeting photos like
of Gunnar Cauthery, who plays Orlando) of the four previous As You Like It
s I've seen, two rank among my favourite Shakespeare performances ever. James Dacre's new production for Shakespeare's Globe (just two years after Thea Sharrock's at the same venue) won't be joining them, but it's a strong presentation of the play nonetheless. As with this season's Hamlet
this is a small-scale production designed to tour, with just eight actors doubling all the roles and providing the music - although the multiple doubling is here done more matter-of-factly.
Cauthery is an adorable Orlando to Jo Herbert's slightly taller than him, initially quite spiky Rosalind. As with the last time AYLI
played at the Globe, designer Hannah Clark has chosen to have them mirror each other's clothing when Rosalind dresses as Ganymede, this production being given a late-Victorian feel and (with the help of some minor text changes) the location moved to England. Beth Park's projection isn't too great when she turns her back to the audience but her Celia does have some nice comic business in the second half. Gregory Gudgeon is a so-so Touchstone, some of his smuttier mimes get a big reaction but he didn't convince me that some of the later speeches wouldn't be better off cut.
The multiple doubling allows Dacre to play around even more with the play's gender confusion, John O'Mahoney (mainly playing the Dukes) making for a ridiculous, bearded Audrey, and even more interestingly Jaques here becomes a woman, which also allows the excellent Emma Pallant to hint at a past romantic connection to Duke Senior that might partly explain the character's melancholy. There's also a stronger feeling than I've seen before that Orlando's attack derails a happier Jaques that might have been, after her first meeting with Touchstone. Pallant also plays Phebe, and I liked how the production resolved the issues around her less-than-willing marriage to Silvius, played by the rather hot Ben Lamb; wait, I wonder if ems
might have provided a highly professional shot of him too?
It takes a while to get going, but that's always the case with this play, not the production. And while this As You Like It
isn't quite as raucous as the play can get, there's a few interesting ideas here and you could do a lot worse if you haven't seen the play before. (You could, for example, have been as unlucky as vanessaw
, whose first time seeing the play was the dire Bridge Project version.)As You Like It
by William Shakespeare is in repertory until the 26th of August at Shakespeare's Globe and continues on tour.