Director Jillian Keiley was batting 500 at the start of the play. Two years ago, we found her Alice Through the Looking Glass gimmicky and incoherent, but absolutely loved last year’s The Diary of Anne Frank. As You Like It is not my favourite Shakespeare comedy, so it was going to be a struggle to impress me.
I was not impressed. The concept of a Newfoundland kitchen party was good, but the gimmicks were just silly. Having said that, the audience seemed willing to go along and wave their sticks, fans, poems, and so on, as directed by Hymen (Robin Hutton, who seemed to be right in the spirit of the show and kept the action moving.)
Rosalind (Petrina Bromley) and Celia (Trish Lundstrom) had a great time being teenage girls, squealing and giggling. This was definitely a different Rosalind, with none of the serious notes that others have provided. Being exiled and threatened with death was just a good excuse for a road trip!
As usual at Stratford there were many great actors in smaller parts. Seana McKenna as Jacques was the only serious person at the party, cynically commenting on everyone else’s behaviour. She was so detached, it almost seemed she did not want to be on stage at all.
There were many in jokes, not all of which could be seen by the whole audience, but I loved it when Le Grand Charles made his entrance for the wrestling match wearing a cape emblazoned with “Great Big C ” on the back.
Many people hated this production. Some left early and others wanted to. But just as many were having a great time if the laughs were any guide!