As We Like It @ Paradise in Augustines
Side By Side Theatre Company’s As We Like It is Shakespeare updated just as we, the modern audience, like it.
As We Like It is a new musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s popular comedy, As You Like It. Performed by an enthusiastic and tight ensemble of actors with learning disabilities from Side by Side Theatre Company, the show is bedded in the fun and well-thought out idea of setting it during 1967’s Summer of Love. A carefully abridged version of the original text is used, speckled with a lively array of 60s hits.
Picture this: a gaudy gaggle of hippies camping in the forest, prancing in unison to The Rhythm of Life from Sweet Charity – groovy is the only appropriate word. The song choices, whilst true to the era, are as unexpected as the performers’ interpretations are a joy to watch. The premise lends itself to some delicious costumes, from the most raggedy of flower power garb to the delicate frocks and gloves of the nobility.
The ensemble operates like a well-oiled machine, with the performers themselves arranging and dismantling the set for each scene in a near-constant rotation. Particular congratulations ought to be given to Sarah Field as the sassy and big-hearted Celia – making us laugh out loud on more than a few occasions with her passion – and Ben Rees as the solemn and captivating Jacques, who delivers the play’s most famous speech with great dignity. The clearest stand-out of all is James Emtage as Orlando, conveying real feeling with every speech, the innocence and purity so fundamental to the character in every pleasant note of his songs.
In short, this production has everything an adaptation of a Shakespearean comedy needs at the Fringe for us to have a good time; a fresh idea for setting, a charismatic and hard-working ensemble, and an active approach to making fringe theatre as broadly accessible as possible.
As We Like It, Paradise in Augustines, (Sanctuary), run ended
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