Shared Experience‘s colourful and playful production of Shakespeare’s comedy has plenty of energy and enthusiasm to keep the audience entertained. 

As You Like It at Theatre By The Lake. Nathan Hamilton (Orlando) and Jessica Hayles (Rosalind). Photo credit Keith Pattison (3).jpg
Nathan Hamilton (Orlando) and Jessica Hayles (Rosalind) (c)Keith Pattison. 

This Shared Experience and Theatre By the Lake production really throws everything at this vibrant and joyous production which makes the most of the playful and silliness of Shakespeare’s play.

From music and dance elements to enthusiastic performances from all of the cast, Kate Saxon’s production has plenty to keep the entertainment and energy levels high. But on the flip side to this, there is the occasional moment where the production does feel slightly clinical – particularly during the opening scene and the build up to the final scene in which Rosalind becomes Rosalind again, there just seems a lack of emotional connection to warm the audiences to the character’s changes in fortunes.

However, visually this is a production that really whisks the audience into the Forest of Arden – thanks to Libby Watson’s contemporary and adaptable set, which has plenty of colour and brings to mind a National Theatre style production. Elements of the plot of further enhanced visually, thanks to the video design of Dan Denton and Ian Galloway – particularly between the transition from the business style room the play starts into the transformation of the Forest of Arden, which offers some lovely visuals.

But the production could use with a bit more pace about it, throughout it feels just slightly too laid back – despite the clear enthusiasm from all of the performances, with each scene seemingly padded out with extra elements such as Rosalind dancing by herself, dreaming of being with the one she loves. The story could have come across as slightly clearer in having additional pace to keep the audience even more focused.

Yet, it can not be denied that the production fully captures the playfulness of the play – thanks to some enjoyable performances. Matthew Mellalieu as Touchstone gives a warmly amusing performance throughout with great comic timing, Josie Dunn as the spirited and determined Phebe has a commanding presence about her that suits the character well, while Matthew Darcy as Audrey gives a delightful performance as well.

As the lovers at the centre of the story Nathan Hamilton (Orlando) and Jessica Hayles (Rosalind), both give strong performances that compliment each other’s take on the characters. Hamilton’s Orlando is suitably hot headed and passionate, while in contrast Hayles as Rosalind is suitably practical and level headed.

Overall, this is a production that has plenty to offer in terms of strong characterisations and visual elements – but is in need of more pace to keep the story going forward effectively. But it is still worth a watch.

As You Like it continues to play at Richmond Theatre until the 11th November, before continuing to tour. To book tickets visit ATG Tickets.

To find out where the production will be heading to on its tour visit: http://www.sharedexperience.org.uk/asyoulikeit.html

Rating: ❤❤❤❤

 

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