You Like It
The Oxford Playhouse
a twenty-first century plagued by a sense of dissatisfaction," says
the director of Shunned Ambition's new production of As You Like
It, "melancholy seems a very appropriate theme."
Japanese cherry blossom is featured heavily in As You Like It
at the Oxford Playhouse.
Polly Findlay's unusual choice of Japanese theatre and culture as
a backdrop to the exploits in the Forest of Arden does indeed bring
out the philosophical elements of this mournful comedy in an innovative
and thought-provoking manner.
Subtle lighting and a slick, stylish presentation give this production
a polished and professional quality.
Puwanarajah (Jacques) and Lorna Beckett (Celia/Adam) deserve particular
praise for their nuanced and naturalistic performances, while Lily
Sykes as Rosalind warmed to the part considerably in the Second
Act after a hesitant start.
Lowen's Orlando was competently played by Mark Lowen, albeit in
a pedestrian manner (a fault of the character rather than the actor,
one suspects) while Ilan Goodman made a rather-unbelievable Oliver,
but a delightfully entertaining Audrey.
strength of this production - its theme of Japanese minimalism,
and the Zen-like stillness it induces - is, however, also its one
mournful melancholy which pervades the end of Act 2 (the most powerful
moment of the play) and occurs again at the very end, is perfectly
suited to such an approach. But the moments of high comedy are not
and this creates a somewhat uneven feeling to the production.
is a shame, since these farcical episodes were brilliantly rendered
(with particular credit for some beautifully portrayed sheep!) But
again, there was a disjointed feel to the production, which wasn't
entirely dispelled by an overly-clever ending.
a nutshell, it was an enjoyable, professional, but sometimes rather
emotionless interpretation of As You Like It.