Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 24°C

min temp: 16°C

Search

Review: As You Like It, Red Rose Chain, Jimmy’s Farm, Wherstead, to August 27

PUBLISHED: 11:05 29 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:05 29 July 2017

Emma Swan, Jack Heydon, Ryan Penny, Darren Latham and Fizz Waller in Red Rose Chain's As You Like It. Photo: Bill Jackson

Emma Swan, Jack Heydon, Ryan Penny, Darren Latham and Fizz Waller in Red Rose Chain's As You Like It. Photo: Bill Jackson

Archant

What I hate about reviewing theatre in the forest is, more often than not, I can’t tell you about the bits that make it so special. I’ll leave it at wrestling, singing goats, lion boxing and moustaches.

Darren Latham as Duke Senior and Emma Swan as Jacques in Red Rose Chain's As You Like It. Photo: Bill JacksonDarren Latham as Duke Senior and Emma Swan as Jacques in Red Rose Chain's As You Like It. Photo: Bill Jackson

The surprises director Joanna Carrick packs in are a big part of the fun. And this was fun, with Shakespeare’s classic rom-com given a rootin’ tootin’ cowboy makeover. It sounds strange, but it works.

Duke Frederick banishes Duke Senior, taking everything he owns. Rosalind, Duke Senior’s daughter, is exiled too and takes refuge in the Forest of Arden with her cousin Celia, Duke Frederick’s daughter.

There Rosalind and Orlando, who has his own family problems; and the people they meet get tangled in a game of love and mistaken identity. Casting is everything and Carrick has struck gold in Fizz Waller (playing Rosalind, among others), Ryan Penny (Orlando and others), Emma Swan (chiefly Celia), Darren Latham (Touchstone and three others) and Jack Heydon (Silvius and more).

Ian the ferret, as himself, deserves special mention. He truly transcended the role and I expect big things in his future.

Darren Latham as Touchstone and Emma Swan as Celia in Red Rose Chain's As You Like It. Photo: Bill JacksonDarren Latham as Touchstone and Emma Swan as Celia in Red Rose Chain's As You Like It. Photo: Bill Jackson

Each was engaging, bouncing off each other and the audience who didn’t let a touch of rain dampen their spirits.

The transition between all 15 characters was smooth and at times hilarious; especially in the penultimate scene when the plot demands virtually everybody make an appearance.

At no point are you, unlike poor Orlando, confused about who’s who either. There’s some slapstick and fight scenes, all choreographed really well, quite a bit of audience interaction including a sing-a-long and lots of laugh out loud moments.

Don’t worry purists, the play never veers into farce or panto and respects the original text. Everything that happens is character driven.

The set, designed by Heydon, was beautiful; with the cottage looking like it had been there forever. The costumes were fun and the music fit really well with the Shakespearean shenanigans.

With villains to boo, heroes to cheer and couples to root for – although I give Silvius and Phebe six months, Touchstone and Audrey less – this will appeal to all ages; definitely in my top three theatre in the forest experiences.

Five years after last staging Les Misérables, the Children’s Theatre Company Ipswich return with the French-set drama, this time at the Corn Exchange.

Review of Unseen Enemy: Radar and The Cold War by Suzanne Hawkes

The story of Bawdsey Manor during the Cold War is the story behind a new play by Suzanne Hawkes. Arts Editor Andrew Clarke spoke to her about East Anglia on the front lines.

Rehearsals are in full swing for the 40th anniversary production of the Suffolk Young People’s Theatre.

Harry Hill performed in the comedy tent at this year’s Latitude Festival.

Maria Marten and the Murder in the Red Barn is one of the most enduring parts of Suffolk folklore. It’s a story that has been told, re-told, adapted, sung and staged countless times over the centuries and you would think that there is nothing more to say about this infamous crime. You would be wrong.

HighTide unveils a musical tinged theatre festival this year. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to artistic director Steven Atkinson about the treats in store and discovers a real East Anglian flavour to the work

Sherlock Holmes: The Final Curtain

Maria Marten and the Red Barn has been an important part of Suffolk folklore for the past 200 years but who was the real Maria Marten. Arts Editor Andrew Clarke joined the cast of Eastern Angles summer show Polstead to find out

Most read

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24