sun 18/08/2019

As You Like It, Southwark Playhouse | reviews, news & interviews

As You Like It, Southwark Playhouse

As You Like It, Southwark Playhouse

Shakespeare's comedy enchants anew, this time with a sheep puppet

Wise beyond her years: Sally Scott as Rosalind/Ganymede in `As You Like It'Robert Workman

Performed by a cast of ten actor-musicians, Derek Bond's take on Shakespeare's comedy of gender-reversal and the constancy (or not) of love is melodic, quirky and at its absolute best when it loses all sense of seriousness. It takes a while to get there given the Bard's finicky set-up, but Bond delights throughout in the characters' foibles and sense of rebellion and he fearlessly works the audience into the show - which, presumably, is as they like it.

Brothers Orlando and Oliver fight over their inheritance while cousins Rosalind and Celia look on. Rosalind and Orlando before long fall for one another but are separated when she is banished to the Forest of Arden by her uncle, Duke Frederick. Happily, Orlando and almost everyone else, including the court jester Touchstone and the ever-faithful Celia, find their way to the forest, as well, where they encounter Duke Senior, who is yet another bictim of Frederick's liberally administered and usefully vague policy of exile. 

Steven CrossleyYou're doubtless aware what happens next: Rosalind in order to survive disguises herself as a man with Celia posing as her sister, and they keep Touchstone around to cheer them up. Soon after, they happen upon Orlando, who unwittingly confesses to Rosalind's newly acquired male self, Ganymede, that he loves this most radiant of Shakespeare heroines. Ganymede by return offers Orlando counsel and even lets the poor boy practice various amorous moves on "him".

As Rosalind, Sally Scott revels in the character's unforced wisdom, her knowing swagger as Ganymede an apt foil to Harry Livingstone's rather more meek Orlando. Steven Crossley (pictured above) plays the two Dukes, charming us with his warm-hearted, avuncular Senior and turning his stern Frederick into a puffed-up curmudgeonly old fool. The production's scene-stealer, however, is Simon Lipkin (pictured below), who ad libs with sharp wit and buoyant eccentricity. Lipkin, a musical theatre stalwart of Avenue Q renown and soon to be seen at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Assassins, justifies Bond's kooky decision to have Touchstone's love interest, Audrey, played by a sheep puppet - Welsh-accented, of course. 

Simon Lipkin and sheep in As You Like ItMusical director Joanna Hickman and composer Jude Obermüller provide a lovely musical palette, and designer Emma Bailey's confetti machine honours Shakespeare's pathetic fallacy whereby bursts of coloured paper signal the changing of the seasons. Specks of white paper snow announce a bitter and desperate winter, leaving bright green to welcome the renewed hope of spring. One might quibble about the rather generic costuming but that in itself isn't enough to dilute the gatheringly joyous atmosphere. By the time the brilliantly comic second half has come to and end, the audience is left giddy, grinning, and brushing confetti off their shoulders. 


Specks of white paper snow announce a bitter and desperate winter, leaving bright green to welcome the renewed hope of spring


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters