As You Like It ★★★★ @sohoplace | Dec 6, 2022 - Jan 28, 2023

As You Like It is a romantic comedy woven within a deeper meditation on the conventions and mutability of not only love and gender, but also of life itself. The work has a unique tone that is not always easy to capture, and productions sometimes come off as a dissonant mixture of farce interspersed with moments of unrelated philosophical meandering. This latest production manages to get it right, creating a place between the charm and silliness of a fairy tale and the depth and resonance of a myth that becomes the magical Forest of Arden. The building of the story around Shakespeare's songs and the centrality of the piano allows music to lure the audience into this world and creates the atmosphere that is complemented by some fine performances. Alfred Enoch shines as Orlando and Tom Mison is quite perfect as Touchstone. Leah Harvey is a clever and commanding Rosalind/Ganymede, while Rose Ayling-Ellis brings an impish winsomeness to Celia. However for us, it was Martha Plimpton as Jaques who commanded the stage whenever she appeared. Plimpton manages to bring a freshness to some of the bard's most familiar words and to illuminate their centrality to the apparently lighthearted tale of befuddled lovers. Robert Jones' exquisitely simple set never overwhelms the play, instead serving as a wonderful stimulus for the audience's own imagination. Director, Josie Rourke, is to be congratulated for bringing to the stage a perceptive and thoroughly engaging production of what is Shakespeare's deceptively complex crowd-pleaser.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Image: Martha Plimpton (Jacques) in As You Like It, @sohoplace, 2022. Credit: Johan Persson.

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