Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory has opened for it’s fifteenth season with As You Like It, directed by Andre Hilton. The play is a comedy that gives a lively look at love and infatuation, and plays with gender roles within the confines of ‘courtship’.
After a couple of slightly nervous fumbled lines and an abrupt start, As You Like It turned out to be a complete pleasure to watch. The entire play rests on the shoulders of the character of Rosalind and the fantastic Dorothea Myer-Bennett plays her beautifully, a refreshingly complex female character who is absolutely giddy with love. After masquerading as a young man she finds a new freedom within the masculine disguise.
Instead of going with the wishes of an over-bearing uncle or a dutiful father, she arranges the perfect happy ending for herself, a rarity for any woman in the times of Shakespeare! Myer-Bennett brings such a joyous attitude to her character and gives fantastic delivery to the witty one-liners. A newcomer to the Tobacco Factory Company, Jack Wharrier is charming, comical and warm as love-stuck Orlando. You can’t help but fall in love with the man yourself.
A lot of the play’s humour comes from people who observe the bizarre behaviour of those in love. Jacques is a dry, sarcastic spectator in this situation and Paul Currier brings a new, campy and dark delivery to the ‘Seven ages of Man’ speech. The fool, Touchstone, brings the big laughs and is played by Vic Llewellyn who mixes sly wit with physical comedy expertly.
Everyone in this production plays his or her part with ease. Chris Bianchi, who doubles as both Dukes, moves seamlessly between parts and Daisy May, who plays the adoring Celia, brings freshness to a character that could just be seen as a gooseberry.
The staging is also clever, with a change of scene being signalled by subtle alterations in the lighting and props being used sparingly throughout. The way in which the pillars of the Tobacco Factory were used as the forest was a great way to utilise the unusual shape of the theatre.
As You Like It is another triumph for Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory and will be on stage throughout spring. For more information go to: