Sunday, 28 September 2014

'As You Like It' Southwark Playhouse ****

There will never be a day when William Shakespeare’s work will become dull and tiresome, and Southwark Playhouse's current production of ‘As You Like It’ was progressively well-characterised, and provides us with laughable moments. ‘As You Like It’ was written around 1599-1600, and is set within a duchy, France, as well as, the Forest of Arden where most of the action takes place. The performance commences where Frederick has seized the opportunity to govern the estate, and scandalously exiles his older brother Duke Senior from the territory. Luckily, enough for Rosalind, Duke Senior’s daughter, she's permitted to remain due to the fact she’s closely associated with Celia, Fredrick’s only offspring. Rosalind does receive male attention from Orlando, a noble gentleman in the Kingdom has been obligated to leave because he's fallen out of love with his older sibling, Oliver. Unfeelingly, Frederick becomes livid and banishes Rosalind from the terrain, with this in mind Celia and Rosalind conjure up a plan, and decide to abscond with one another, and are accompanied by Touchstone, a jester. To decrease suspicions, the ladies disguise themselves with Rosalind obtaining the persona of young man, and Celia posing herself as a poor and desolate woman. Progressively, they arrive in the Forest of Arden; with their new identities, where Rosalind is now known as Ganymede, and Celia now called Aliena. Moreover, the expatriate Duke has taken residence there too, with his many devotees; such as Jaques, a disgruntled persona, who is an emotional person too. Intriguingly enough the Duke and his daughter never come into contact. Shakespeare's narrative is exceedingly pleasurable. Wretchedly, one ponders that the array of romance stories of in one play were too ample for one's particular liking and engagement. One believes the performances by the company of ‘As You Like It’ were well portrayed, and the decision to double up on roles was an interesting idea indeed. Steven Crossley is outstanding as both Duke Frederick and Duke Senior. It was particularly stimulating to see how comparatively different his voice and posture changed to convey both characters. Simon Lipkin a spectacular as the court jester, Touchstone. He intensified the comic moments within the performance; such as his use of puppetry with a sheep to convey his love interest, Audrey with a sense of emersion. Sally Scott and Kaiser Hammerlund were charismatic as Rosalind and Celia. One admires the trusting relationship they have to ensure that both of them are content with their decision to escape from Frederick’s disorderly and volatile approach. The actor musicianship within this production was impeccable from Joanna Hickman, who portrays Phebe, and recent graduate from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Samuel Townsend, who also performs the roles of Le Beau and Silvius. Derek Bond’s direction is superb throughout as his version of Shakespeare's comedy encapsulates the themes of romance and social classes with flair and precision. Emma Bailey's design is abundant as we are clearly observing the progress of the season with vibrancy and considerable flamboyancy, with the use of confetti that drops from the ceiling. Overall the experience ‘As You Like It’ was and exuberant one indeed ,and well worth a visit to Southwark Playhouse. 

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