We are honoured. The touring company from Shakespeare’s Globe have chosen Portsmouth in which to finish their technical rehearsals and do the very first performances of their latest offering, the 1599 pastoral comedy As You Like It.
Shakespeare is notoriously difficult to make funny for a modern audience. His clowns prattle on in what is often the most dense, complex language making jokes that were topical at the time but now mean nothing. Pity the poor actors given these parts. But don’t pity Gregory Gudgeon in this production.
Gudgeon makes both Touchstone accessible and comprehensible and funny. But the joy of this production is that the self-same thing can be said about the entire cast.
Shakespeare’s text and his dramatis personae have been trimmed and honed. Here a multi-talented cast of eight take on sixteen parts between them including the first female Jaques I’ve seen – Emma Pallant in fine melancholy form. Her ‘All the world’s a stage’ was a revelation.
Jo Herbert and Beth Park make fine work of Rosalind and Celia - their scenes together are slick, well-timed and funny, but they turn on a sixpence, too, and Move to the more serious moments with ease.
Gunnar Cauthary’s Orlando is feisty and fiery and the wrestling scene with Ben Lamb’s Charles is brilliantly choreographed and well realised.
John O’Mahony and Willliam Oxborrow make up the rest of this strong, strong cast, the former doing a fine – and funny - turn as the rustic, Audrey.