Review of As You Like It by Stamford Shakespeare Company at Tolethorpe
If Shakespeare to you is all bodices, ruffs and tiresome-to-follow texts then take a trip to Tolethorpe.
This year’s interpretation of ‘As You Like It’ is a mind-blowing mix of Sixties sights and sounds, including a superb opener set to Thunderclap Newman’s Something in the Air.
The story, while character-heavy and containing some role reversal twists, remains reasonably simple to follow, centring around upper-class sibling squabbles and characters decamping in droves to the Forest of Arden in the West Midlands - home, some might say ‘trippily’, to a snake and a lion.
Stamford Shakespeare Company actors appear in their various guises - some dressed as hippies, some resembling The Beatles in their ‘Fab Four’ days, all grey shiny suits and mop-tops.
Meanwhile, Rosalind and friend Celia sport Mary Quant styles, and the good Duke Senior appears from the dark heart of the outdoor stage’s woodland backdrop like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Quite the mix.
For the audience, the play is a cheerful yomp through some pretty profound themes, including love, gender, envy and forgiveness.
Actors to look out for include Martin Lander, who plays the court jester as Englishman and raconteur Quentin Crisp better than Crisp himself might have managed, plus Kathryn Wanless as the attractive-yet-slightly-vexatious Rolaslind and Ganymede.
For those who enjoy some Sixties music, the play sets the audience swinging with Poetry in Motion, Puppet on a String, Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross and a bit of The Beatles.
Take a picnic and team it with an As You Like It-themed cocktail from the bar at Tolethorpe Hall before the performance - 7.45pm Tuesdays to Saturdays.
As You Like It is on stage at Tolethorpe from June 27 until July 1, and July 31 to August 19.
Tickets are available from the website tolethorpe.co.uk or, if you cannot book online, call 01780 754381.