Pros: A funny, approachable piece of theatre, which shows a real love of the bard without too much seriousness. A fast-paced performance based on some of Shakespeare’s best loved works.
Cons: Drags a bit in one or two places where it feels like the performers have got a bit carried away.
Arriving at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, two excited young women offer us party bags, muffins and a shot of wine to honour the 400 year anniversary of the death of the bard.
Gluttons for punishment, my reviewing partner and I settle into our seats in the front row and before long the performance begins with the two women leaping onto the stage in William Shakespeare T-shirts, jeans and Converse trainers shouting at us in rat-a-tat fast delivery, informing us that this is the 400 year anniversary ‘wake’ of the bard.
As You Might Like It is a two-hander made of mash-ups of Shakespeare with new writing in between to link it together into one cohesive whole. The actors Roseanna Morris and Helen Watkinson play all the roles very well. Their high-energy style really works in the piece and is very funny. They are a great comedy duo and remind me a little of Rik Mayle and Adrian Edmonson in Bottom.
The actors make great use of the space, which is just a large undressed stage with a set of steps on the left-hand side, to bring all the snippets of plays to life. Their delivery of Shakespeare’s lines is so full of passion, it really draws the audience in and gives meaning to language which can often be a little impenetrable.
There is a lot of audience participation which often makes me cringe; but in this situation it really helped to involve the audience in the jokes. The party bags which were given out at the beginning contain scrolls with lines from Shakespeare on them which people read out. Some audience members are dragged on stage to take part in Twelfth Night, split into Team Viola and Team Olivia with the remaining audience voting on which team is best.
The music is provided by a two live musicians (a pianist and a violinist) who are very talented and really add a nice touch to the whole performance.
Overall the performance is very good and the extremely high energy levels remain at that level throughout. The performers must have been exhausted! Although it could have done with a little polish here and there, on the whole very well written, acted and directed.
Director: Martha Geelan
Music: Shane Rutherford-Jones
Booking Until: This show has now completed its run.