...and these men (and women - and women dressed as men) make for a great evening's entertainment. This is not one of Shakespeare's meatiest plots; nor, frankly, one of his funniest comedies - but it is hard to imagine any production doing better than the Globe players.
Rosalind holds this play together, and Naomi Frederick does a splendid job, with a light comic touch. For most of the play she is dressed (rather fetchingly, I thought...) as a boy, but scrubs up nicely for the final scene. Jack Laskey plays Orlando as a naive and callow youth, which is fair enough, as he has to be fairly dense not to see through Roslaind's disguise in eight seconds flat. The only problem with this is you wonder why Rosalind doesn't dump him for his elder brother the second Jamie Parker walks on stage.
Touchstone hams it up nicely, the Duke-in-the-forest is handled sympathetically, and minor characters such as Audrey, Phebe and (in particular) Silvius are faultlessly portrayed; but Jacques steals every scene he's in. Tim McMullan (looking and sounding like a young Terry Jones) is wonderfully lugubrious, world-weary, and aloof to all the excitement the other characters feel. He pops up in all sorts of strange parts of the theatre, and deals with the over-familiar Seven Ages speech wonderfully well.
One minus - the music. Usually the Globe's musicians do a splendid job; but not so here. It's not bad, as much as inappropriate. Dixieland jazz in the Forest of Arden doesn't cut it for me.
That tiny quibble aside, this is an excellent production, and is heartily reccommended.