“Though I look old…I am strong and lusty”
From the minute Michelle Terry’s Rosalind launches into an actual tizzy at the sight of Orlando’s ripped body (an inordinately but irresistibly muscular Simon Harrison), the warmly joyous spirit of Blanche McIntyre’s As You Like It is never in doubt. The contrasting textures of Shakespeare’s elegant yet complex comedy are well balanced, its musical elements pushed to the forefront with a folkish score from Johnny Flynn but above all, there’s a sense of intelligent fun that delights in taking its time to reveal itself.
Terry has been establishing herself as one of our leading Shakespeareans and this energetic and impulsive take on Rosalind is an absolute privilege to watch. Constantly on the edge of her emotions, she skips from the giddy heights of love at first sight to the crushing pain of banishment in the blink of an eye. And as she explores the nature of love and the heart, her heart in particular, her deftly comedic manner whilst disguised as Ganymede is just glorious, her continual delight at what she is discovering a constant joy.
This is no one-woman show though, McIntyre encourages performances of depth and daring from all her company. James Garnon’s sardonic Jacques provides a revelatory ‘All the world’s a stage’ which toyed with the audience perfectly, Daniel Crossley’s bright-eyed Touchstone is as quick at talking as he is unexpectedly tap-dancing and always funny with it, Ellie Piercey’s Celia complements Terry perfectly with a graceful older sister vibe that can’t help but be swept along by the exuberance, and Sophia Nomvete’s Audrey is a scene-stealing delight.
Andrew D Edwards’ reconfiguration of the stage works well to draw the audience closer to the action, not close enough to Orlando for my liking though!, but how anyone could resist accompanying Michelle Terry on such a vivacious journey I do not know. I’m a fool for not going to see this earlier in the run so that I could see it again but I’m mighty glad I was able to be a belated part of another illustrious chapter of this fine actor’s work.