Wednesday, 7 December 2005

As You Like It, Green Cyc, Dec 7, 2005

As You Like It  by William Shakespeare 
Green Cyc

 Como House, South Yarra,  December 7 to 18, 2005

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on December 7

There are always obvious assets in outdoor theatre – and significant disadvantages. Green Cyc’s production of Shakespeare’s romance, As You Like It, has both.

Outdoor theatre uses beautiful surroundings – in this case, Como Park – as its stage design. It allows audience to picnic on the grass, move from location to location and experience a mild summer’s evening.

A production can also suffer from the vagaries of the weather, problems with outdoor acoustics and the pressure on actors who must perform on rough terrain with no backstage.

Fortunately, for the opening of As You Like It, the evening is mild and fine. Como House perches regally on the slope above us. The audience settles on rugs and chairs around a fountain. As we wait for the start of the play, actors prance and play, interacting with the audience.

There are significant problems with this production by Green Cyc, a company founded three years ago by graduates of the Ballarat Academy of Performing

The production, adapted and directed by Nathan Godkin, has no clear conceptual or stylistic foundation. Shakespeare’s form, language and narrative and muddied.

In attempting to make the play “accessible” to modern audiences, Godkin inserts unnecessary doggerel to explain the story.

Each actor does his or her own thing. Characterisations are so broad that characters are two-dimensional and cartoon-like. Any magical sense of the Forest of Arden, of sensuality and romantic love is lost in the vain attempt to entertain.

As You Like It is a romantic comedy that incorporates a magical forest, four pairs of lovers, two villains, one clown and a happy ending for all. It is a whimsical, playful play but needs some sense of its darkness.

The heart of the story is the romance between Orlando (Gareth Davies) and the clever, feisty Rosalind, (Sally Plant) daughter of the banished Duke Senior.

The acting is extremely uneven but there are glimmers of potential in some of the actors such as Davies, Plant, Natalie Michaels as Celia, Nick Dubberley as Duke Senior.

Te music is too loud, the voices are too soft and the sense of budding sexuality is missing.

If you are not a Shakespeare aficionado and enjoy light entertainment in the park, this may be the show for you.

By Kate Herbert

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