Review: As You Like It
A timeless production of relatable societal criticism
The experienced cast of Yule’s As You Like It did the classic Shakespearean comedy justice. The tricky cohesion of startling societal criticisms and farcical humour were balanced well throughout the majority of the play.
A relatable yet enticing friendship was the prominent and continuously strong thread strung in the complex love stories of the play. Cullis and Monk encapsulated the ferociously loyal girl bond of friendship perfectly, a beautiful microcosm of girls bathroom experiences everywhere. Cullis' portrayal of Celia as an impressionable and romantic friend perfectly complimented Monks portrayal of our invigorating and capricious protagonist.
The serious undertones of the play were encapsulated in sporadic moments of genius from Palmer, a fluctuating actor whose occasionally missed comedic quips were entirely redeemed by his moments of intensity that became some of the most brilliant peaks of the play; his rendition of ‘all the world's a stage…’ an infamous yet tricky monologue, was truly invigorating.
The patriarchal conclusion of partnering in As You Like It was slightly twisted through gender-blind casting, allowing for same sex actors playing a heterosexual relationships. The relationship depicted by the actors Clark and Berridge-Dunn was expertly funny, whilst actresses Cullis and Gilmore’s relationship allowed layers of tenderness and truth which could otherwise have been overlooked in a strictly gendered cast. This, in a play lined by the themes of gender and identity, created an further insight into the audience’s reception of gender stereotyping in romantic relationships.
The first act was largely overshadowed by the much smoother second act in terms of performance execution, yet still had moments of enticement such as the domineering nature of the Duke, by Leigh, the whimsical musings of our doting Orlando, by Broadhead and the wonderful addiction of intense physicality in the wrestling scene by Broadhead and Rozanski.
Fionna Monk, who plays Rosalind, was a sensation, dynamic and amusing, a never slacking actress who is truly phenomenal to watch. The complex poetic lines of Shakespeare were deciphered before us by her professional and flawless communication, her talents of working an audience was proved throughout and concluded successfully in the epilogue.
The events of Arden is incredibly immersive, particularly induced by the traditionally surrounded stage design, as well as the simple but efficacious interior decoration of Alington House, which the design team cleverly chose to extend past the stage into the audience. This setting underscored by classical ensemble, creates a fantastic aura of authenticity complimenting Yule’s favouring of naturalistic theatre. The satirical and sexual comedy makes the seriousness of the questions it asks palatable and in the spirit of International Women's Day it is important to consider the issues accentuated in such a timeless production.