As You Like It is arguably Shakespeare’s most romantic comedy and I was full of anticipation at the thought of seeing one of my favourite stories enacted in the lovely space of the Barons Court Theatre. This production by Yellow Chair Performance Experience was definitely a good effort to render a beautiful tale of true love overcoming difficulty.
Despite some artificial artistic choices – the gaudy colour scheming of the costuming was unnecessary – there was some excellent acting amongst this vast cast. Louisa Tee as Rosalind and Jessica Lowery as Celia really carried the play; their understanding and delivery of early modern language was gripping and thoroughly satisfying while their cousinly relationship was the only developed relationship throughout. Louisa Tee did an enormous amount of justice to the difficult dynamic shifts in her character while Jessica Lowery was light, playful and enchanting. It was a delight every time they came on stage. Graham Elwell as Silvius was also a lovely incarnation of the hapless and unlucky in love Shepherd, while the music provided by Peter Moore as Amiens (also a charismatic Charles) struck exactly the right note.
It’s an ambitious undertaking to put a Shakespeare play on in ninety minutes without making some thoughtful selections about which plotlines and characters to retain. This production had all the hallmarks of a show which had spread itself too thinly. It would have been delightful to see something new in this production, an indication that this particular play had been chosen judiciously and with purpose; to show something relevant to an audience of 2015. An attempt had been made to move the action to a French location but this was uncertain and uninspiring.
Although theatre without a set can be truly effective and affecting, in this instance the complex plot felt unsupported in this decision. As You Like It is a celebration of love and some artistic visual stimulation would have served the story well. It was a shame that the magical Forest of Arden was left unrealised, even symbolically. There was clearly a lot of enthusiasm for this project and it showed in the cast’s enjoyment of their performance. A lovely story, lovingly told.
Review by Annemarie Hiscott
AS YOU LIKE IT by William Shakespeare
Barons Court Theatre
The Yellowchair Performance Experience presents a highly original and entertaining version of the well-loved classic.
Quick-witted cynic Rosalind and her worldly cousin Celia, disguised as forester Ganymede and his sister Aliena, hide out in the Forest of Arden after being banished from the court of the evil Duke Frederick.
They meet and fall in love with brothers Orlando and Oliver, and encounter some of Shakespeare’s other best-loved characters along the way: the ever-singing Amiens; the gossipy courtier Le Beau; honourable wrestler Charles; optimistic Duke Senior; the faithful Adam; the scholarly Jaques de Bois; the mysterious Hymen; and the hilarious shepherds Corin, Silvius and Phebe.
29th January 2015