As one of the Shakespeare plays I am less familiar with, it was the idea of the evening as a whole that attracted me to the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival production of As You Like It at Girton College, Cambridge, rather than purely the theatricals. However, the play turned out to be possibly the best part.
Set in the beautiful quad in Girton College, the stage was simplistic; a sheet in a tree was pretty much it. The actors used the green space, the paths between the audience and the college buildings in a way which effectively involved the spectators.
The eclectic group performed the story; full of farce, pretence and forbidden lovers (unlike Shakespeare) impeccably. The story, which is mildly challenging to follow at the best of times due to the disguise element and the fact that Shakespearean troupes usually play multiple characters so it is hard to distinguish whether they are masquerading as a different person or are actually meant to be a different person, meant it took a little while to distinguish and retain the knowledge of who was who. This wasn’t helped by the vast spread of picnic and beverages which was brought out by one of our group during the opening.
It was a brilliant cast, all in all; the more serious characters complimenting the more jestful. I thought no-one covered both sides of this coin better than Phoebe, whose distainful rebuttal of Silvius and goofy attraction to Orlando was hilarious (and the latter, understandable). Orlando was also performed very well; an entertaining and believably depiction of a love-struck teen. Or as believable as it can be when the story rests on the plausibility of a man not recognising the woman he loves in the flimsy guise of a forest-dwelling boy.
A fabulous evening. Beautiful setting, great acting and a good picnic. Exactly as I like it (barf).
(Last performance tomorrow, go - http://www.cambridgeshakespeare.com/programme/as-you-like-it/)