Sunday night my husband and I took in As You Like It in Hawrelak Park - the comedy of the Freewill Shakespeare Festival. It was so lovely to be back at the park under the big white canopy. I enjoyed Taming of the Shrew last summer, but there is something about seeing Shakespeare outdoors that feels so right. It was good to be back.
The show was so much fun. No terrific surprises in the delivery of the play, but solid performances from everyone and a lot of laughs for the audience. I loved the Downton Abbey inspired costumes by Hannah Matiachuk. Everything was picture perfect and the aesthetic really seemed to suit the play. As You Like It is one I have seen a few times before, and this look gave the play a really fresh feel.
The company is so very solid, and we see many familiar faces on the stage. I think if you normally shy away from Shakespeare because you feel you won't understand it, then this is certainly the show to see to get you over that fear. The actors in Freewill, even the newbies, have a facility for the language that makes everything accessible. It's also great fun.
Highlights in action for me included the wrestling (both the warm-up and the actual bout), the wonderful BFF connection between Rosalind (Mary Hulbert) and Celia (Belinda Cornish), Amiens' (Nicholas Donald Rose) wonderful singing, Touchstone (Ryan Parker) making his cane a character of it's own (he's hilarious, even when he messes up - perhaps more so!), and Ashley Wright's excellent portrayal of Jaques. Jaques is often too morose for me, but Wright played him in a refreshing way, almost like a scholar of melancholy as opposed to a sufferer of it. There are lovely little moments in the piece that give testament to the maxim, "There are no small parts, only small actors." John Ullyatt proves this with his hysterical performance as Le Beau, as does Nancy McAlear with her delightfully abrasive Phebe.
All in all, it was a lovely night. Next weekend I shall be back for Coriolanus (which I have NEVER seen - so I am SOOOOOO EXCITED!!!)!