Having blogged my way through the run of As You Like It, each day I concluded with an invitation to share thoughts on the production. Imagine my surprise when a local am dram enthusiast sent a review through Facebook that has a word count to rival any of my own efforts. So, taking a night off from reviewing, I’ll pass you over to the thoughts of Emma Hammond, a longstanding member and supporter of the TOADS Theatre Company, who share their views on last week’s run of ‘As You Like It’…
“It’s not often you go to a production already knowing not only the storyline but through the media of Facebook statuses, what an amazing time the cast have had bringing this piece of theatre alive from the page onto the stage through the rehearsal process.
In a production like this where rehearsals can easily become a drudge and a chore to attend, as cast members struggle with the language and complexities of making the audience understand Shakespeare, it was refreshing that the cast had such a positive approach to the piece and had clearly bonded as a company.
Much of the credit for this must go to the director Maggie Campbell who skilfully hacked away at the script producing something more manageable and less time consuming to understand, yet still portraying the important memorable speeches and the main points of the story and allowing her cast to have fun through the process.
The community spirit in this production was evident from the start, with such a mixed ability and age range it’s not easy doing Shakespeare and the company tackled it well. It was encouraging to see some new tadpoles on the stage and young talent once again learning their craft within the company. The performances from Becca Lamburn and Jack Sutton gave some of the adult members of the cast a run for their money, as these two very talented young performers really got into their characters and delivered Shakepeare not only enthusiastically but with great expression, delivery and understanding that I felt at times some of the older cast members lacked.
Lydia Dockray gave a beautiful performance as Rosalind. I hardly recognised her when she came on stage and she made the transformation from man to woman effortlessly and was a joy to watch. The chemistry between her and fellow actor Jolyon Tuck was simply delightful as Tuck delivered his lines confidently and well paced making it very easy for the audience to understand. Special mention has to go to also go to his ‘last minute’ shoes which greatly enhanced his costume, however he does possibly needs to learn to eat apples slightly quieter on stage, as this was a little distracting during one of the scenes!
Hannah Samuel was once again a credit to the theatre company that she has grown up in and provided just the right balance as Rosalind’s friend Celia, never upstaging or being upstaged, she continues to grow into a very talented young local actress.
Local amateur theatre stalwart Iain Douglas played the role of Jaques and delivered the plays most famous speech confidently. It was good to see him out of his usual comfort zone of musical theatre and he adapted well.
There was some impressive supporting performances as well. Ben Tisdall played the role of Sylvius, not Ben’s usual choice of role, his sustained characterization was superb and he produced a very strong performance which made you feel sorry for his ineptness and the unrequited love of the beautiful Phebe. Sarah Davis’ role which was changed from the Duke to the Duchess, worked well as she swept on and off stage with authority and power.
Everybody involved had clearly worked incredibly hard on this production and it is impossible to mention every single person individually, there where some lovely cameo moments and although a little disjointed in places the plot unfolded well. Shakespeare can be notoriously hardwork and producing Shakespeare with an amateur company even more so. I would be lying if I said I felt the cast understood every word that they spoke or that the audience understood it all, but the storyline was clear and understandable and the cast were enjoying being part of the performance and that was what really mattered.
I really enjoyed this production, especially the tree! Well done to everyone involved and may the memories and the new friendships that you have made remain for a long time to come.
…following this, I received a further review via email from Carolyn Heath, a review of the same production first posted on the comments section of the Herald Express website. I have been invited to share her thoughts here, and also share a link to the review the production received in the local press at: www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk
And, Rosalind (Lydia Dockray), after 20 years of Shakespeare, I don’t believe I’ve ever been so well conjured.
…normal service will resume shortly.
Last Review from the Little Theatre: Death of a Salesman