Review Roundup: RSC's AS YOU LIKE IT

Review-Roundup-AS-YOU-LIKE-IT-20010101

The Royal Shakespeare Company's AS YOU LIKE IT opened at Stratford's Royal Shakespeare Theatre on 24 April 2013.

Featuring music from the English folk musician Laura Marling, and directed by Maria Aberg, the play follows Rosalind and Orlando, who are banished by the French court and flee to the Forest of Arden; finding romance, mischief and anarchy.

As You Like It runs in rep until 28 September 2013.

Let's see what the critics had to say:

Simon Tavener of whatsonstage.com says: The over-choreographed movements for the court followers in the first court scene are far too distracting at a moment when the audience should be focussed on Rosalind and Celia. Similarly the pacing of the first half really does need attention. With a running time coming in well over the published 3 hours 15 minutes, this is a production that needs to find more cuts.

Michael Billington of the Guardian writes: Its chief delight is Pippa Nixon, who, for me, joins Vanessa Redgrave, Adrian Lester and the late Susan Fleetwood in the select pantheon of memorable Rosalinds. Nixon shows her mettle when, at court, she stands up to her usurping uncle with fiery independence. But the real shock comes when she reaches Arden in male disguise. With her slim frame and cropped hair, Nixon is the most plausibly boyish Rosalind I have ever seen. She captures the duality of a character whose wits are sharpened by passion yet who, when briefly abandoned by her beloved Orlando, gazes after him with the bereft sadness of a stricken doe. It is a captivating, wittily androgynous performance that ushers Nixon to the threshold of stardom.

Paul Taylor of the Independent says: The hot folk singer-song writer Laura Marling has composed a score that hauntingly adds to and embellishes the songs in the play, as when Orlando struggles his way into delirious nonsense while trying to find rhymes for "Rosalind" with a short "i" and vainly juggling accordion and manuscripts hits on the idea of posting his verses on the tree trunks. Aided by a fantastic Grock-meets-Grosz Touchstone from the unfailingly superb Nicolas Tennant and Oliver Ryan's peculiar but very funny take on Jaques as a Welsh obsessive, enraptured only with the idea of the rural, Pippa Nixon (wonderfully convincing as wiry pipe-cleaner "Ganymede") and Waldman bring home how the leads are soulmates and as giddily heaving with hormones as a field is hummingly suffused with pollen in high summer.

Libby Purves of the Times states: Pippa Nixon, with her tall, eccentric grace, is immediately a striking Rosalind... David Fielder makes that small part centrally memorable and moving... Laura Marling's lovely folkish music takes fine liberties with Shakespeare's lyrics... Nixon in drag is a good comedienne and magnetically, ambiguously attractive... Oliver Ryan's Jacques is unnecessarily creepy and overfond of silly walks ... But Touchstone and Audrey are a hoot... It all ends in a stomping molly-dance of such vigour that one fears for the floorboards. This time Aberg holds the right kind of party.

Fiona Mountford of the Evening Standard says: We're getting ready for a summer of festivals - but the Royal Shakespeare Company has got there first. In Maria Aberg's joyously rich and sensitive production, which shows the RSC in strongest form for a long time, the Forest of Arden is reconceived as a sort of perpetual Latitude Festival. Battered armchairs are scattered under sprinklings of fairy lights, soulful young men in Mumford-esque woolly jumpers strum on guitars and, best of all, the spot-on original compositions are provided by one of last year's Latitude headliners, Laura Marling.




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