Shakespeare’s audiences can often expect a tale of family feuds and love at first sight, featuring a witty jester and a bit of cross dressing confusion; in these respects As You Like It delivers on all counts.
Set in Duchy, the story follows the romance of Orlando and Rosalind who meet in court and fall in love instantly. Soon after Orlando is exiled by his brother, Oliver, while Rosalind is exiled by her uncle, Duke Frederick.
Both characters flee separately to the Forest of Arden. Rosalind is accompanied by her cousin Celia and the court fool, Touchstone. Rosalind and Celia adopt disguises as Ganymeade and Aliena, and when they cross paths with Orlando again in the forest, he fails to recognise Rosalind dressed as a man.
Rosalind decides to toy with Orlando in her new identity; offering to cure him of being in love. She soon gets more than she bargained for however, as young shepherdess Phoebe falls in love with Rosalind dressed as Ganymeade.
Clwyd Theatre Cymru’s performance of As You Like It, directed by Terry Hands was a pleasing and enjoyable production of Shakespeare’s classic comedy. Christian Patterson, as Touchstone, stole the show; with his over-the-top clowning around and cheeky quips provoking hooting laughter from the audience.
Patterson skilfully overcame a wardrobe malfunction towards the end of the play, and by acting out farcical embarrassment managed to laugh off the loss of his overly loose breeches.
Hedydd Dylan was impressive as the witty love-struck Rosalind, one of Shakespeare’s best loved comic heroines. Dylan succeeds in portraying the two sides to Rosalind’s charcter; as the swooning girlish romantic, and as the mischievous Ganymeade who mocks the fairer sex, warning Orlando: “Maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives.”
Philip Bretherton was convincing as Jaques, the melancholy lord; bringing sarcastic slurs and black humour to balance the high spirits of Touchstone the fool. However at times Bretherton spoke too quickly, making his lines difficult to follow.
The musical interludes in this production of As You Like It were well executed and added to the rustic feel of the scenes in the Forest of Arden. The rich harmonies of the male voices made the performance all the more authentic, and the jovial ditties later on in the play created an atmosphere of merriment around the marriage festivities.
Overall, Clwyd Theatre Cymru’s production of As You Like It was highly amusing and well worth a watch, although the play involves more gentle humour than some of Shakespeare’s other comedies.
As You Like It is showing at the New Theatre until March 24. Tickets are available from £14.50. To book, call the New Theatre box office: 029 2087 8889.