‘Shakespeare’s comedy could have been written last week’ – As You Like It review

Cross-dressing, chronic melancholia, regime change, a rebellious royal  – Shakespeare’s comedy could have been written last week.

Director Ellen McDougall’s lively production keeps faith with the verities while transgendering in ways that intrigue and amuse in equal measure.

Aided by Max Johns’ superb costume designs that bring a Lewis Carroll-like surrealism to Elizabethan puffs and ruffs, this is a bright and pleasing antidote to the modern dress productions that often seem like the result of post-war clothes rationing.

A fine ensemble of male, female and non-binary actors deliver the lines with clarity and conviction, playing to the gallery and groundlings with confidence.

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If some members might do with a lesson in projection, the majority of the cast – notably Nina Bowers whose Canadian-inflected accent works well in her vivacious interpretation of Rosalind, Macy-Jacob Seelochen as her royal bestie Celia, Stephanie Jacob very moving as old Adam and Alex Austin as a Cockney Jaques – bring a gleeful energy to the Forest of Arden where the game of mismatched genders and romantic complications is played out.

The additional dialogue emphasises the queer manifesto overeggs the pudding as Shakespeare makes the point about gender fluidity more than adequately.  

As You Like It, Shakespeare’s Globe until October 29, Tickets: 020 7401 9919

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