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As You Like It On Stage
on 2 October 2012
This DVD is a filmed version of a performance at the Globe. Subtitles are available, which is handy.
As You Like It as a play is a potent mixture of fairytale romance and simple, often bawdy, comedy. We know that Shakespeare wrote his plays so they would appeal to the groundlings and the educated audience but director Thea Sharrock takes it a bit too far. The characters that are meant to be broad are done for the most part very well. Silvius, Phoebe and Jaques are spot on; Audrey is suitably grotesque; Touchstone garbles a little. However I disliked the broad interpretation of Celia, which smacked of upstaging to me. You don't need to bang the audience over the head with the meaning- the very fact that they've come to the Globe means that they must have some experience of Shakespeare.
Naomi Frederick as Rosalind gives an earnest performance but it feels slightly out of place in such a broad "modern" production. Jack Laskey as Orlando looks far too modern and perhaps a bit too much of a weed. The only name here you might recognise is Jamie Parker as Oliver, Orlando's evil older brother. Parker does a good job of balancing the words with the comedy- there's a great moment when he's trying to revive Rosalind (dressed as Ganymede) and discovers that this boy may not be all boy...
Out of all his plays, As You Like It is the most solidly theatrical. There is no real plot- Rosalind falls in love with Orlando, runs off into the wood in disguise with her pals, and everybody has jaunts and chats in the forest- and so all the film adaptations have been to some degree a failure. Therefore as a stage performance, this is useful to students of the play. Sharrock does manage the pace well, but it's just a shame that the play is never really touching or romantic.