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As You Like It - Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (UK)

Written by William Shakespeare. Directed by Ellen McDougall.


Reviewed by Justin Clarke

Shakespeare’s Globe, Southbank

30th August - 29th October


4.5 STARS


- Full of joy and frivolity, As You Like It will perk up your summer at Shakespeare's wooden O -


William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, may just be one of the most absurd of his love comedies, with his usual cross-dressing mishaps, Greek Gods and vengeful Dukes. However, the Globe Theatre’s summer season production hones in on the notions of gender identity, love and individuality to create something heartfelt and hilarious, offering some of The Bard’s most memorable one liners and speeches.


One thing to love most about The Globe’s summer season of As You Like It, is how much the cast lean into the absurdity of the situations the characters find themselves in, but also that each and every situation offers the highest of stakes.


The company of the Globe Theatre's As You Like It (2023). Photos by Ellie Kurttz.


Director Ellen McDougall brings to light the joviality of the forest of Arden through Jackie Orton’s decadent and somewhat scantily clad costuming for some characters. Starting with a relaxed prologue, Hannah Ringham, Emmanuel Akwafo and Alex Austin hand the Groundlings bunches of lavender which very quickly fill the air with their strong scent. Austin shows his comedic chops from the get go (“This is the prologue. How do you like it?”) whilst simultaneously setting the atmosphere for As You Like It. This tale is focused on love in all its forms, no matter how ridiculous the course of it runs.


In a nutshell, the daughter of the exiled Duke, Rosalind (Nina Bowers), falls in love with the son of the recently deceased Duke, Orlando (Isabel Adomakoh Young). After being banished to the woods of Arden by differing circumstances, Rosalind disguises herself as a boy shepherd and has Orlando woo her under the guise of “curing” him of his love for Rosalind. Meanwhile, Rosalind’s cousin Celia (Macy-Jacob Seelochan) watches in bewilderment. Add in a Fool (Tessa Parr) who finds their true identity in the woods, a Lioness attack, Phoebe (Jessica Alade) who falls in love with the disguised Rosalind, and the whole ordeal ending in four couples being wed by the Goddess of Marriage and you have As You Like It.


McDougall’s focus is on the frivolity of the situations surrounding each character, emphasising the freedom of love throughout. With gender blind casting used for some characters, there’s a degree of freedom within the production. A multitude of accents adorn the play, some are thick and heavy, others are light and jovial, but they all add to the notion of love in its many forms.


With musicians placed above the stage, the set of the Globe Theatre is left bare, allowing for the audiences’ imaginations to run wild with the piece. The only recurring set piece is a chain of different phrases dangled above the Globe which changes throughout, representing different symbols of identity.


Don’t let the ludicrousy of Shakespeare’s plot deter you from seeing As You Like It this summer season.

Bowers’ Rosalind is joyously exuberant in her actions. She demonstrates a keen ability to well tears in her eyes when withholding herself from Orlando, afraid to jump headfirst into love lest it be unrequited. Bowers’ comic timing is extraordinary when Rosalind disguises herself as the shepherd Ganymede, taking great joy in overplaying her “masculine” traits with a drawn on thick moustache and curly chest hair.


Seelocha plays the role of Celia honestly. There’s a sincere truthfulness and a biting attitude in the way Seelocha has approached the role. Whilst not given much to do in the second half of the show, Seelocha is always enrapt with Rosalind’s situation, and is on hand to flip the bird if required.


As Orlando, Adomakoh Young is bold and somewhat brash, but with a depth of youth underneath. Their best parts come when attempting to woo Ganymede/Rosalind and the audience takes great joy in sharing in Orlando’s utter confusion and exasperation at the whole affair.


Other highlights come from Austin’s rendition of the famous, “All the World’s A Stage” speech, which feels like it takes up the entire space of the wooden O with honesty and integrity, giving way to the beauty of Shakespeare’s words in his theatre. Parr as the thick accented fool takes great joy in breaking free from the role of jokester and finding her own love story. Alade’s Phoebe boasts a beautiful singing voice, which makes up for the inability to truly like the character as she plays with the affections of Mika Onyx Johnson’s Silvius. Stephanie Jacob has memorable laughs as the older character Adam, and Jessica Murrain’s Oliver stands tall and proud to juxtapose the younger brother Orlando.


With additional text by Travis Alabanza, this production of As You Like It is scattered with different devices to draw audiences into the main themes of the play. Contemporary music is slotted between scene changes to keep the tempo upbeat and playful, and the cast revel in the sheer joy of it all. Particularly Emmanuel Akwafo’s Amiens who truly gets down and dances on that famous stage.


Don’t let the ludicrousy of Shakespeare’s plot deter you from seeing As You Like It this summer season. The cast are safely at hand to help bring joy, frivolity and a bundle of laughs (and apples) to make your time in the wooden O a memorable one.

 

As You Like It - Globe Theatre (2023)


TICKETS

Galleries (Seating) £65 – £25

Standing £10, £5

Hundreds of £5 tickets for every performance, hundreds more at £10. Book early for the best prices.


CAST

Isabel Adomakoh Young ORLANDO

Emmanuel Akwafo AMIENS

Jessica Alade PHOEBE

Alex Austin JAQUES

Nina Bowers ROSALIND

Stephanie Jacob ADAM / CORIN

Mika Onyx Johnson SILVIUS

Tonderai Munyevu DUKE SENIOR

Jessica Murrain OLIVER

Tessa Parr TOUCHSTONE

Dale Rapley DUKE FREDERICK

Hannah Ringham AUDREY

Macy-Jacob Seelochan CELIA

Guy Woolf DENNIS


Accordion Sophie Crawford

Double Bass Rio Kai

Guitar Shirley Tetteh

Musical Director / Descant recorder / Field drum Michael Henry

Percussion Rosie Bergonzi


CREATIVES

Additional Text Travis Alabanza

Associate Director Indiana Lown-Collins

Casting Director Becky Paris

Composer Michael Henry

Costume Designer Max Johns

Costume Supervisor Jackie Orton

Designer Wills (Paul Williams)

Director Ellen McDougall

Dramaturgical Consultant Char Boden

Fight Director Kevin McCurdy

Globe Associate – Movement Glynn MacDonald

Head of Voice Tess Dignan

Intimacy Director Tommy Ross-Williams

Movement Director Bambi Jordan Phillips

Text Associate Marina Caldarone

Text Dramaturg Madeline Sayet

Voice Emma Woodvine





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