Saturday, 30 July 2011

As You Like It - Royal Exchange, Manchester

So after a solid week of theatre you would think I need a rest, but no, its time to return to my favourite theatre, the Royal Exchange for spot of Shakespeare - As You Like It, directed by Greg Hersov.
I was a bit worried that, after a week of one hour plays, three hours of Shakespeare might be a stretch too far for me. However the time whizzed by as I watched this energetic, innovative and refereshing take on the work. Bunny girls, wrestling, audience participation, gorgeous sound and music and a fabulous ensemble cast - what's not to like.
All the cast are excellent in their roles, but special mention goes to Cush Jumbo as Rosalind. I saw her in Pygmalion at the same theatre a while back and she was brilliant then, but in this role she is simply outstanding. The energy and agility she brings to the part is quite breathtaking. I don't know really how to describe it but she simply sparkles on stage. If awards don't follow it will be a complete travesty.
Also deserving plaudits is Ian Bartholemew as Touchstone the clown who delivered an excellent performance throughout, although the highlight for me was towards the end of the play as he got the audience involved, and also managed to make clever reference to the bloke in the front row who had spent the whole play with his head buried in a book (I'm guessing the play text), barely glancing up - this earned a huge round of applause from the rest of the audience - to me it felt incredibly disrespectful to the cast for an audience member to do that, and to his loss he missed some amazing performances as a result.
All in all a wonderful afternoon in the Forest of Arden and I left the theatre with a smile on my face and a great respect for everyone who had been involved in the production, another winner from the Royal Exchange.

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