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As You Like It, Rst, Stratford-Upon-Avon

RSC Maria Eberg Laura Marling Shakespeare

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#11 xanderl

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 05:46 PM

ah, you were using the royal "they" ;)
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage

#12 Lynette

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 09:42 PM

Glad you got it, x :rolleyes:

#13 igb

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 11:42 AM

We went to this last night, with the extra insights from a colleague who had never seen a professional production of a play by Shakespeare.

We really enjoyed it.   It's a relatively straightforward production, with the focus very much on the performances and the text, rather than some overarching director's concept.  Pippa Nixon as Rosalind absolutely owns the stage whenever she's on it, and has real chemistry with Alex Waldmann's Orlando.  Joanna Horton's Celia is a good foil to Rosalind, but through no fault of her own is rather over-shadowed by the two leads.  She'll get strong, I think.  Nicholas Tennant is an excellent Touchstone who doesn't wear out his welcome: I kept thinking there had been big cuts, but a glance at the text this morning shows there hasn't been, just that he didn't drone on as some Touchstones are wont to do.   His general tone smacks of a production of Godot, and is none the worse for that.  The dukes and their assorted henchmen are rather thinly drawn --- you don't get the same sense of a band of brothers in the forest that you got in Michael Boyd's excellent production in The Courtyard --- but are all perfectly serviceable.   Audrey and Phoebe are, likewise, a little interchangeable, but their performance will probably sharpen up during the run.   Oliver Ryan --- a welcome returnee from The Long Ensemble --- is an excellent Jacques.   Luke Norris's Oliver appears, paradoxically,  younger than his young brother, which is a little confusing.   But there's not a weak performance amongst them.

There's a rather fiddly set --- lots of vertical steel beams, echoing the structure of the RST, on a revolve which I'm not sure adds much.  It's lit dim and cold for the court, and bright and warm for the forest, but the basic colour and texture doesn't change enough.  But it doesn't get in the way.  That now essential RST feature of "something raining down from the fly tower" is, in this case, rain, and the huge amounts of foam faux-gravel are going to keep the cleaners busy.

The court scenes are a bit laboured, and there's an extended dance sequence before the first arrival of the duke which I suspect won't survive previews.  The first part of the second act drags, although I think that's rather inherent to the play, but it all picks up very nicely as the weddings approach.  The rustic dances are very entertaining and don't intrude, and the music and songs (Laura Marling) is well-integrated and well-performed.

It was the first preview, and it ran long: it wasn't down until five to eleven, so at 3:25 there's going to have to be some speeding up or cutting to make the booked 3:10.  It doesn't tell you much about the play you didn't already know, although I'm not sure there is that much to be told.  And to keep happy those that were annoyed by Katy Stephens singing a little song, the epilogue survives.

Big applause and cheers at the end, and some of the more excitable were actually on their feet (probably Americans, with their ovating).  Maria Aberg, or her twin sister, was drifting around the downstairs bar in the interval, and I suspect she'd have liked what she heard.

It's a fine line to tread in the main house, especially for the comedies, between by-the-numbers productions for the tourists and something which assumes a familiarity with the text.  I think this production does that well.   It does need cutting and tightening, because getting on for 11pm is very late for a comedy, and a few of the performances need to be sharpened up a bit to avoid them being "generic yokel" and "generic poshy".  But as a first preview by a young cast on the director's first trip to the main house (and discount tickets, too) it was most enjoyable.

[[ And an extra nod to the RSC box office who both tolerated me putting my spare ticket in for resale on Friday morning and then snatching it back at 2pm when a colleague wanted it, and waived the fee to change a family rate ticket into an adult ticket "because you've been honest enough to come and see us".  ]]

Edit to add: Touchstone had been cut.  All that nonsense about "I said his beard was not cut well, he was in the
mind it was: this is called the Retort Courteous" has gone.  Good.

#14 Lynette

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 03:24 PM

Thanks for this, igb. A bit worried that Phoebe and Audrey are similar...? And so long! Extra bag of jelly babies required. Seeing it June.

#15 igb

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 04:33 PM

View PostLynette, on 14 April 2013 - 03:24 PM, said:

And so long! Extra bag of jelly babies required. Seeing it June.

As I say, it's listed at 3:10 in the programme (complete with nasty, 1970s-stylee slash through the zero), so it's presumably going to be got down to that before the official "first night".  Timings are interesting: the Swan's been moved to 7.15, and the offset between the two houses is being got by starting Hamlet at 7.00 and AYL at 7.30.

#16 simon from oxford

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 05:36 PM

That is far too long.  None of the comedies should run any longer than 2 hours 30 plus interval - anything else is self-indulgent.  I will never quite understand how the most recent RSC Dream came in at just over 3 hours - for a play that can easily be done in 2 (plus interval!)

Oh well - I hope it has tightened up by the 24th...

#17 Lynette

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 05:12 PM

The Swan and the Main House always start 15 mins apart. And Hamlet usually has an early start everywhere. Dunno why, you can race through it! It is like marking its importance.

#18 igb

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 06:06 PM

View PostLynette, on 15 April 2013 - 05:12 PM, said:

The Swan and the Main House always start 15 mins apart.

Or since the rebuilding, anyway.  Before it was 7.30 in both, wasn't it?   They only need to split the starts now the two houses share some front of house.

#19 Lynette

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 10:21 PM

No there was usually a split.

#20 Honoured Guest

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 08:13 PM

View PostLynette, on 15 April 2013 - 05:12 PM, said:

And Hamlet usually has an early start everywhere. Dunno why, you can race through it! It is like marking its importance.

And Dora the Explorer usually has an early start everywhere. Dunno why, you can race through it! It is like marking its importance.

http://www.whatsonst... +the +explorer





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