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‘As You Like It’, Shakespeare on the Lawn Review

7 Jul 23

Enjoying their picnics, one another’s company and the enchanting atmosphere of the stage set amongst and beneath the trees on the Chapel lawn in School, our audience were treated to a delightful performance of As You Like It, for this year’s Shakespeare On The Lawn Tuesday and Wednesday evening this week.

The story of Rosalind and Orlando, and the test of their love; a complex play scattered with intertwined story lines, Year 9 put on a grand performance, which was met with admiration and appreciation by all who came along. In essence, the play depicts the importance and role of forgiveness and the story of true love.

Beginning the play effortlessly and quickly moving into one of the most memorable scenes of the night, an expertly choreographed wrestling match between Orlando and his brother Oliver took place, feeling every bit as real as the grass under the audience’s feet as they sat in the evening sunshine watching in anticipation.

Orlando confronts his brother asking why he has been treated so badly since their father’s death, this leads to an almighty battle set at the very front of the grassy stage for all our audience to see. Fighting for not only his fortune but for the opportunity to become a gentleman; he sees Rosalind for the first time and, of course, they fall in love – and so the story begins. This scene in particular was delightful, felt very real and had clearly been the focus of significant rehearsal; it was greeted with waves of laughter since the overall ambition of the piece was certainly to entertain in a comedic style.

The play moves on quickly and seamlessly, with grace and elegance, depicting Orlando’s fleeing to the Forest of Arden and all that unravels, including his love interest Rosalind fleeing too, and everything that ensues.

The staging of this performance on the School’s Chapel lawn just couldn’t be more perfect, as the actors moved from the stage to the backstage/costume change areas, they travelled around the outside of the seating area, literally around and through the audience. As they did so they remained in character, continued acting and reinforcing their roles, and kept the audience entertained – albeit silently. It was the most subtle suggestive acting, and it was a beautiful part of everything special about the entire evening.

The hours of prep and rehearsals were clear for all to see. Perfectly organised stage and prop changes, costume changes and performances. Connected interactions and suggestive acting on ‘stage’ complemented every scene and certainly helped the audience interpret the ever-complex language of Shakespeare.

With ripples of laughter echoing around the audience in most scenes, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, relatives and staff enjoyed the elaborate costumes, subtle yet beautiful lighting that became more enhanced as the sun disappeared from the skies, particularly in the second act and overall ambience of the evening and authenticity of our actors.

The final scene of the performance saw every actor involved in the play on ‘stage’, there was joyful dancing, singing and weddings galore as, with the help of the god Hymen, what felt like the majority of the characters were married – none more special than Rosalind and Orlando, who finally became man and wife. It was a feast for the eyes, as the lights sparkled, the costumes coloured the scene and our actors, appearing to be thoroughly enjoying themselves (and so they should!) brought the performance to an end – and received a standing ovation from the audience. Completely and utterly deserved.

It’s almost impossible to select one particular moment or scene over another in terms of impression and impact, but it’s fair to say that the entire audience enjoyed every character and scene. No parts of the play were laboured, instead moved softly and gently from one scene to another, transporting our audience each and every time.

Congratulations to our Year 9 cast and crew for a brilliant evening, and also to our teachers and staff in School who made this entire production possible. Thanks also to our audience for supporting and encouraging our young actors.

‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.’

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