As You Like It at Shakespeare's Globe 2023. Photo by Ellie Kurttz

As You Like It reviews – Shakespeare’s Globe

Reviews are coming in for As You Like It, now playing at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

Director Ellen McDougall stages Shakespeare’s joyous comedy, shaken up with some strong language, and featuring a gender-bending production with a predominantly young cast.

The cast includes Isabel Adomakoh Young as Orlando, Emmanuel Akwafo as Amiens, Jessica Alade as Pheobe, Alex Austin as Jaques, Nina Bowers as Rosalind, Stephanie Jacob as Adam / Corin, Mika Onyx Johnson as Silvius, Tonderai Munyevu as Duke Senior, Jessica Murrain as Oliver, Tessa Parr as Touchstone, Dale Rapley as Duke Frederick, Hannah Ringham as Audrey and Macy-Jacob Seelochan as Celia.

Alongside McDougall in the creative team is Associate Director Indiana Lown-Collins; Composer Michael Henry; Costume Designer Max Johns; Costume Supervisor Jackie Orton; Designer Paul Williams; Fight Director Kev McCurdy; Globe Associate – Movement Glynn Macdonald; Movement Director Bambi Jordan Phillips; Text Associate Marina Caldarone; Text Dramaturg Madeline Sayet; Voice coach Tess Dignan; and Casting by Becky Paris.

As you Like It is playing at Shakespeare’s Globe until 29 October 2023.

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As You Like It – Production Photos

As You Like It reviews

The Evening Standard

"Not always subtle, but consistently delightful"

"The Globe’s now-habitual gender-fluid approach to casting chimes perfectly with this story of disguise and confusion: we might be experiencing the same kind of mind-expanding uncertainty Shakespeare’s original audience felt. Above all, I believed in almost all of the relationships here, which is rare. Even the lesser characters are endowed with dignity, at no expense to their comic value."

"McDougall’s production is not always subtle but it is consistently delightful. And it made me hear some familiar passages, like Rosalind and Jaques debating the values of melancholy and merriment, as if they were new. A pleasure."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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"It’s fun! Lots of fun! "

"You need to make it a laugh, and that’s exactly what director Ellen McDougall does with the final outdoor show of the Globe season, a queered-up take that skips over the sadder bits and generally sets its sights on a good time for all"

"Pouncing on the plot strand in which heroine Rosalind dresses up as a man in order to expedite her wooing of her true love Orlando (for Reasons), McDougall’s ‘As You Like It’ is a cross-dressing extravaganza. In particular, Isabel Adomakoh Young’s ebullient, extravagantly fake moustachioed Orlando is not so much lesbian coded as pretty much doing this drag king style. But that’s in no way suggesting her performance isn’t heartfelt. In fact the central relationship here is delightful, as the diminutive exile pursues the strapping Rosalind - performed with magnificently OTT blitheness and bluster by Canadian actor Nina Bowers, in the show’s stand-out performance."

"It’s fun! Lots of fun! ‘As You Like It’ is a play that can leave audiences lost in the woods if it’s not done right, but I emerged from these forest with a veritable bounce in my step."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Telegraph

"Shakespeare meets RuPaul’s Drag Race"

"Ellen McDougall’s leans into the freedom and absurdities of Shakespeare’s comedy in this witty, gender-blurring interpretation"

"It’s a confident and dynamic cast, whose cohesion is exemplified in the chemistry between Nina Bower’s Rosalind and Macy-Jacob Seelochan’s Celia. (It’s a shame that Seelochan doesn’t have more to do: their comic timing sparkles.)"

"This new production, directed by debutante Ellen McDougall, leans into the absurdities, such as Rosalind’s exaggeratedly drawn-on chest hair; it mocks its characters even as it celebrates their freedom to choose who they want to be. That premise of liberation from the strictures of societal constructs is contained in the metaphor of the Forest of Arden, presented as a site of transformation."

"This is a fun, modern and tongue-in-cheek reading of As You Like It – and a good argument for its continued reinterpretation. "

Dzifa Benson, The Telegraph
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The Stage

"Beguiling - Queer reimagining of the pastoral comedy twinkles and charms"

"It’s no revelation that fluidity around gender and sexuality is a prominent feature of Shakespeare’s comedies. So this production by Ellen McDougall, in overtly queering his tale of pastoral romance in the Forest of Arden, playfully tickles the text rather than radically subverting it."

"Laced with lusty company singalongs to pop songs by Lizzo, Tegan and Sara, and Janelle Monáe, and with costumes by Max Johns that blend Elizabethan period detail with influences from drag and the club dancefloor, it’s a twinkling, joyous tumult of emotions and affections. What’s largely missing, the fleetest of instances aside, is the melancholy that should offset the rising sap and blooming passions; this is all honey, and we sometimes long for a tang of the bittersweet. But it’s a staging of persuasive and seductive charm, with Nina Bowers and Isabel Adomakoh Young witty and touching as its central lovestruck pair."

Sam Marlowe, The Stage
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The Sunday Times

"The Globe’s As You Like It is pleased with its one big idea. “You are part of a queer family!” Emmanuel Akwafo’s Amiens shouts at the end, and there is much gender-fluid fun"

"Yet Ellen McDougall’s spry production flattens all the melancholy out of the play — as well as much of the tension, sexual or otherwise — and Tudor clubkid costumes are not enough to cover up some underpowered performances and weak modern song-and-dance routines."

Victoria Segal, The Sunday Times
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The Times

"Stick with this singalong Shakespeare"

"Sacrilege? Messing with a winning formula? No, for the most part the front foot-forward, LGBTQ+ larkiness goes rather well with this tale of disguise, strategically swapped genders and, finally, all nonsense negotiated with, true love. And the gender-fluid casting approach that the Globe has increasingly traded in gets its most thorough embrace to date in which the men, queer or otherwise, tend to be secondary."

"Adomakoh Young mixes comic aplomb with huge amounts of heart as nice-guy Orlando, who addresses his love for Rosalind with, little does he know it, Rosalind herself, disguised as a man called Ganymede (keep up!)."

Dominic Maxwell, The Times
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The Guardian

"Gender-fluid version plays too freely with the text"
"Ellen McDougall’s inclusive production is wonderfully warm and flirty – especially in the scenes between Rosalind and Celia – but uneven and confusing as a whole"

"Nina Bowers is a wonderfully flighty and flirty Rosalind, making love with the audience, an array of suitors, and just about anyone she comes across. She forms an excellent double act with Macy-Jacob Seelochan’s sharp-tongued and sensible Celia."

"If this were a play entirely about Rosalind and Celia it would have been a revelation, but almost all the remaining roles and relationships feel underwhelming by comparison. The subplots – particularly the painful love affair between Phoebe and Silvius – struggle to make an impression. Even the central love story between Rosalind and Orlando (Isabel Adomakoh Young) feels like a bit of an afterthought."

Miriam Gillinson, The Guardian
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👤 📅31 August 2023
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📷 Main photo: As You Like It at Shakespeare's Globe 2023. Photo by Ellie Kurttz

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