It’s easy to skim the surface with William Shakespeare and miss all the nourishment beneath. Rather capriciously if you’ve seen even one or two productions done very badly then it’s very easy to begin to think (somewhat treacherously) that maybe he’s not so ‘towering’ after all.
But then you see one show which makes you realise why the British are so proud of this National Treasure and it’s like falling back in love with an old partner, suddenly all the annoying things that they do (the protracted verse, the ‘hilarious’ out of context social comedy) are transformed into actions and moments of delight.
And so it was for me. Just as Rosalind falls so marvellously for Orlando in As You Like It, so I fell head over heels in love with Shakespeare after seeing a superlative production of this text which is currently on at the Globe. My interest had previously been moistened with a little light flirting in the form of Timothy Sheader’s very sweet Much Ado About Nothing at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, but it wasn’t until I sat in the Globe earlier this week that I was once again hopelessly enamoured with the Bard.
Director Thea Sharrock and her superb cast have an immense understanding of As You Like It, and what can often seem like a string of famous quotes is woven together with great humanity and sparkling wit in an enrapturing production. Out for all to see is Shakespeare’s inherent humour, the liveliness in his characters (in both villains and heroes) and his timeless empathy of the human condition all burnished with the richness of his beautiful language.
Shakespeare then is daring, funny, lively, empathic, poetic, and elegant; it’s no wonder that I feel like a flushed school girl eager to see the next play from my long forgotten crush (I have already watched an outdoor promenade version of Romeo and Juliet, and still the flame burns for more). But I’m not a jealous lover and there’s plenty of Shakespeare to go around this season for everyone, if that is, you fancy it.