As You Like It – Sheffield Crucible, 2007-02-13

This is definitely the best play I have seen in the last 12 months! Now that I’ve built it up, I should start the review.

The set design was striking, the stark white set, with subtle use of mirrors and large mechanical door at the far end, created a space much larger than the stage could handle. Ingenious use of props, provided a highly interactive play, memorable examples were the tree winched out from under the stage, the hat flowers – used to mark the opening of the second half, and a large, internally lit, movable ball used to depict the passage of time.

The cast clearly had a lot of fun performing this play, the epilogue featuring a monologue about wine and bushes being related to great plays and epilogues and the actress playing Rosalind giving an old gentleman in the front row a kiss, to prove her point on love and relationships (and bad breath). I’m sure this was her fun revenge for his rebuttal of her attempt to involve him in the play earlier on.

 Some very inventive improvisiation when things didn’t go quite as planned when Rosalind through some flowers to Orlando, which he should have caught but instead dropped, improvising with some lightning quick kung fu and a sharp line.

 The play begins in the court of the new duke, the scene is set appropriately using dark and brooding lighting and curtains hiding the white set, upon the characters escape to the woods of Arden the set opens up creating the stark contrast, highlighting the issues of freedom and happiness.

The various comedic interludes, especially in the second half, ensure that interest is maintained, with Touchstones charming of Audrey the country wench, the highlight.

 Despite my difficulties with the language, the plays storyline is fast paced and easy to understand, with a pleasingly bright and happy outlook. Usually, I prefer dark, moody and broody pieces, but this play opened me up to the cheerier side of theatre and I think I rather like it!

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