Despite the reluctance of the English summer to arrive, you can still enjoy the pastoral pleasures of the fabled Forest of Arden at the Globe Theatre this season.
In the best Shakespearean tradition, the forest offers refuge to banished noblemen, courtiers and cross-dressing noble women all in pursuit of honour and love. Add in the native country folk and the scene is set for this delightful production of As You Like It.
The banished Duke Senior, with his loyal followers, are biding their time in the forest when joined by Orlando (Simon Harrison), spurned by his brother. Orlando is not only homeless, but pining for a woman he met fleetingly at court, Rosalind (Michelle Terry).
Rosalind, daughter of the banished Duke, is banished in turn and with her cousin (Ellie Piercy), escapes to the forest disguised as the boy ‘Ganymede.’ As a boy, Rosalind befriends Orlando and encourages him to pay court to ‘Ganymede’ as though ‘he’ was Rosalind. Her disguise succeeds too well as a shepherdess falls for ‘Ganymede’. Gender bending confusion results, not to mention other love affairs between the interlopers from the court, notably the fool Touchstone (Daniel Crossley), and the forest folk.
Michelle Terry and Ellie Piercy as cousins, radiate the frustrations of women kept at court, then energy of freedom when they reach the forest.
Simon Harrison is a persuasive Orlando, who wins the girl and wrestles both men and lions. James Garnon as cynical nobleman Jacques delivers some of the great Shakespeare speeches with brilliance. Daniel Crossley, as Touchstone is an audience favourite—not to mention his nifty dancing.
Director Blanche McIntyre’s witty touches add to the charm of the performance as well as drawing the audience into the action by the staging.
The Globe is particularly suited to Shakespeare’s comedy as the ‘groundlings’—the standing audience in the pit—add the energy and comedy of this production. It’s a total experience that you just don’t get in other venues.
Don’t forget that there are 700 £5 tickets for every performance. You can join the ‘groundlings’ or sit undercover in the galleries and reflect on the brilliance of Sam Wanamaker, the late American actor & director, the power behind the rebuilding of the iconic 16th century theatre.
This is the setting to relish As You Like It. Go and enjoy!
Until 5 September
21 New Globe Walk
London SE1 9DT
020 7902 1400