Theatre Review: As You Like It - York Theatre Royal ✭✭✭

As You Like It
York Theatre Royal

As the bunting comes out in Act II on this Jubilee bank holiday weekend, it is not the monarchy that it is in honour of but it is instead a celebration of the wealth of talent York harbours inside its famous walls.

Now in its 3rd year, the annual TakeOver Festival sees York Theatre Royal’s professional management team hand over the reins of this historic theatre to a team of under 26 year olds for 3 weeks; and the management must be worried for their own jobs as the young guests do a superb job.

As You Like It is one of the jewels in this year’s crown and is one of two resident productions. Lead by the sure hand of Festival Artistic Director Andra Catincescu, this is a pacy tale of love, the usual Shakespearian cross dressing and light humour.

All of the community cast acquit themselves extremely well, taking audiences in to the Forest of Arden where love’s true path takes some odd turns until finally getting back on course. Along the way audiences are treated to some splendid, well rounded caricatures mixed amongst the more grounded characterisations. It is a lovely mix that works splendidly.

The performances are strong and well balanced with projection clear so as audiences can take in all of Shakespeare’s lilting language. From the leading characters of Rosalind and Orlando, to Touchstone the intelligent fool, all cast members deserve high praise and singling anyone out would be unfair – though there are numerous individual stand out moments.

The design is simple but effective with a large tree looming over the action, costumes are in keeping with the relocation to a Romany Gypsy camp and proceedings are underpinned by Christopher Madin’s predominantly stringed score.

It is an extremely accomplished production and with so many of those involved also taking part in the city’s Mystery Plays later in the summer, York can be proud of what its people can produce together.

Congratulations to the TakeOver Festival – I look forward to seeing you again next year!

As You Like It continues at York Theatre Royal until 9th June 2012.


Review by James Eaglesfield