Tuesday, 26 September 2017
As You Like It, Pop-Up Globe ***
Written by William Shakespeare
by Pop-Up Globe (In repertory with: Henry V, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, Around the Globe in 60 minutes!
At Pop-Up Globe, until Nov 12, 2017
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Monday Sept 25, 2017, and later in print (Tues26/10). KH
Picture yourself in early 17th century London, perched on a balcony, peering down at rollicking actors on the stage of the Globe Theatre while the rowdy ‘groundlings’ – standing-room audience – cheer and guffaw at Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
At the Pop-Up Globe visiting Melbourne from New Zealand, we experience Shakespeare’s open-roofed theatre, the boisterous style of his comedies and the unruliness of the crowds who drink, shout and scoff at the drizzling rain.
UK director, Tom Mallaburn’s production favours hilarity over clarity, with characters relentlessly entertaining the crowd with riotous slapstick, bawdiness, running gags, topical references, modern love songs and men dressed as sheep. It’s panto-Shakespeare.
However, the narrative will elude those unfamiliar with the play, and one of Shakespeare’s finest and most famous speeches (‘All the world’s a stage’) delivered by the melancholic Jaques (Stephen Papps), is obscured in the flurry of comedy.
As You Like It is a rom-com, so why not have Touchstone (Michael Mahony) the clown eat Vegemite and sing My Heart Will Go On from Titanic, or have Orlando (Adrian Hooke) filch his awful love poetry from pop songs? But please, keep the story clear!
With her cousin, Celia (Stanley Andrew Jackson III), Rosalind (Jonathan Tynan-Moss) flees her uncle, Duke Frederick’s (Stephen Butterworth) court, disguises herself as a youth, seeks refuge in the Forest of Arden and encounters her secret ‘crush’, Orlando, who pines for Rosalind but does not recognise her in disguise.
Tynan-Moss switches gleefully between girlish capering and tittering and gruff, laddish posturing, and the crowd roars at the goofiness of a man playing a woman who pretends to be a man who repels a gay shepherd’s (Jonathan Martin) advances.
Hooke’s Orlando is suitably gauche in his pursuit of Rosalind and his ludicrous love lyrics are diverting, while Mahony’s Touchstone is a comic hit, addressing the audience directly, singing and playing a mandolin, taunting and urging us to cheer and laugh.
As Celia, Jackson is saucy and entertaining, and his dance duet with James Hardy as the snobbish Oliver is a riot.
Paul English brings dignity and grace to Duke Senior, Rosalind’s exiled father, providing one of the few non-comic characters and a considered, clear delivery of the poetic dialogue.
As You Like It is not one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays and, although there are glimpses of his exceptional language, this production emphasises physical comedy over poetry.
By Kate Herbert