Wanderer between worlds, fugitives as beacons of hope, metamorphosis to a more heartfelt existence under the influence of nature… Country lad William Shakespeare, living in ’s big city hustle and bustle, certainly knew the longing he was writing about.
This production by Swedish director Maria Aberg bathes the affectionate Shakespeare comedy in an ambiance of festival, midsummer and heavenly lightness. Its atmosphere floats on dreamlike music written by composer and folk-pop singer Laura Marling.
Rosalind, the surpassing Pippa Nixon, flees, together with her cousin (Joanna Horton), from her reckless uncle’s court, shortly before also her heartthrob (Alex Waldmann) seeks refuge in the Forest of Arden, due to his brother’s murderous plans.
This is where already Rosalind’s banished father is hiding with his entourage. Rosalind, disguised as a man, comes across Orlando, who doesn’t recognize her, and teaches him the art of charming a woman.
Pippa Nixon does not only conquer Orlando – with her incredible diversity of expression, she juggles with the audience’s emotions and expectations, flying them high, letting them drop, catching them in such swing and momentum and spinning them up again, that just watching the play feels like dancing.
Alex Waldmann is a current day Orlando, hoodie wearer, misunderstood, exuberantly young and intoxicatingly physical. He displays his emotional worlds, their development and their variety in ways so touching that you’d wish you had individual scene photos for each single one of them.
Celia, Rosalind’s cousin and soulmate, is played by a fabulous Joanna Horton who credits this often neglected part with the fascination and warmth of a funny very best friend.
Touchstone the jester ensures, portrayed by Nicholas Tennant, continuous tears of laughter, and Jaques, his alter ego, in Oliver Ryan’s interpretation, comes over as a lovable drop-out comedian.
As You Like It is going to be on stage in the Theatre Royal in Newcastle from Tue 29 October – Sat 2 November 2013.
A treat not to be missed.
(First published in German on 26/04/2013 under http://artyviews.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/shakespeare-woodstock-im-wald-von-arden/)
Photographer: Keith Pattison