Discover what critics have been saying about Josie Rourke’s production of Shakespeare’s play with our review round up….
Broadway World: **** “This is a layered, delicate production that’s as detailed in its visuals as it is in the poignancy of its reflections and nuance of its comedy. It’s safe to say that Shakespeare directed by Rourke has become an event in its own right.”
London Theatre1: **** “this production strikes a balance between portraying the intensity of courting and the poignancy of true love. The great thing about it is that it engages those who aren’t necessarily all that familiar with the Shakespeare canon: whether you’ve seen As You Like It a hundred times or never, there’s much pleasure and delight to be had.”
London Theatre.co.uk: **** “But if you’re seeking an Arden of verdant delights for your festive outing, accessibly performed by a charismatic company, you’ll certainly find it here. And I can’t wait to return to this inviting and hugely promising new venue for more shows. Per Celia: I like this place, and willingly could waste my time in it.”
The Guardian: **** “Martha Plimpton, as Jaques, gives the play’s most famous lines (“All the world’s a stage”) a freshness and gravity and every other actor shines, too.”
London Unattached: “There is plenty to love about this production, the way Shakespeare’s language and narrative are clearly explicated as well as the energy and good humour of the performers. I loved sound designer John Leonard’s chorus of braying sheep that encircles the audience and each of the minor parts is fully characterised and adds value to the show. It’s worth going to even if you aren’t a fan of Shakespearean drama to see Rose Ayling-Ellis’s transition from soap star through dancing queen and now to dramatic actress.”
Evening Standard: **** “Rourke seems instinctively to have understood the demands and opportunities of a venue where 600 audience members in three vertically-stacked tiers completely surround the stage. This place has the bare-bones simplicity of Shakespeare’s Globe but an even greater intimacy. It’s just us and the actors in close proximity with little scope for set. So designer Robert Jones, with Poppy Hall, has great fun with the costumes, especially Plimpton’s wigs and britches.”
The Upcoming: **** ” Silvius (Nathan Queeley-Dennis) adds hip-hop notes to Phoebe’s (Mary Malone) words in the score, and entertaining sequences of clumsy dialogue involving Touchstone (Tom Mison) jazz up the whole, along with the singing. It would have been enjoyable to more of this sprinkled throughout. Nonetheless, As You Like It is a bright and melodious sparkle under a wintry sky.”
Time Out: **** “Rourke’s production seems less concerned with the more serious, court intrigue-heavy opening sections, but comes to life when its various characters have all run off to the Forest of Arden. Forming a classic O shape, the in-the-round @sohoplace lends itself to Shakespearean performance, but not the sort of lavish sets and production values you’d typically expect from West End Shakespeare. But Rourke and creative team have got around this brilliantly.”
iNews: *** “Josie Rourke’s production fails to make a collection of often successful individual scenes coalesce overall, and the transcendent Act Five resolution – intriguingly played here without Rosalind changing her clothes to mark her shedding of the Ganymede persona – is underwhelming.”
The Telegraph: *** “The beloved Strictly winner and EastEnders star’s use of BSL in place of spoken verse works excellently, but other changes grate.”
Lost in Theatreland: “Whilst Shakespeare may not be my first choice when choosing a show, between the wonderfully diverse cast, the careful and thoughtful inclusivity of this production and the addition of music and songs, if more productions follow in Rouke’s footsteps, I could easily become a convert.”
Theatre Weekly: “A new theatre presents an old classic with a modern and fresh take, the inclusion of music and BSL makes for a terrifically accessible As You Like It, while some incredible performances make this an enchanting watch.”
Culture Whisper: **** “However, it seems to run out of steam towards the end, as if it’s released all the tricks from up its sleeve, holding nothing back for the final moments. For a production that ekes out the story’s songs, there’s no high-spirited dance to round things off, either. Little bother though; away with tradition! This As You Like It leaves us thoroughly entertained.”
As You Like it continues to play at the @Soho Place until the 28th January 2023.