Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: David Bevington
Peer Reviewed

As You Like It: Performance History

Recent productions

13In Greg Doran's RSC production at Stratford-upon-Avon in 2000, with Alexandra Gilbreath as Rosalind, the lavish set was a dreamland of white tapestry for the court, with brightly colored cushions and art deco cutout trees representing the forest. The show generally disappointed critics, but did better at London's Pit Theater. It had the bad luck to be staged shortly after a superb production by Michael Grandage at the Crucible, Sheffield, and Lyric, Hammersmith Theatres, for which Grandage was named Best Director in the London Critics Circle Theatre Award for 2000. Grandage has also been honored for other productions at the Donmar Warehouse. Marianne Elliott's 2000 AYL at the Royal Exchange, also in the wake of Grandage's success, was rated as 'vivid, clear, and occasionally inspired, but marred by deliberateness of intent'. Claire Price was an engaging Rosalind opposite Tristan Sturrock's delightfully-unsure-of-himself Orlando, 'often to be caught surreptitiously trying out manly or poetic poses' (The Independent, July 22, 2000).

14One particularly striking production in a modernist vein was that directed by Declan Donnellan for Cheek by Jowl, touring in Britain in 1991 and thereafter on tour worldwide. In a canvas box set mounted on a plain wooden floor, the forest was invoked by green banners cascading downward from the flies. The all-male cast, clothed at first in black trousers and white shirts, then in working clothes for the Duke's followers and unpadded long dresses for the female roles, were on stage from start to finish, coming forward from an outer circle when involved in stage action. Some actors played bits of jazz, especially in the carnivalesque finale. Adrian Lester as Rosalind was tall, dark-complected, visibly masculine and at the same time energized by the homoerotic resonances of his role as a supposed woman disguised as a young man and very much in love both with Orlando (Patrick Toomey) and with Celia (Tom Hollander). This Rosalind was the brilliant embodiment of theatrical ambiguity. The production made a theatrical virtue of calling attention to its own artifice.

15Gregory Thompson, in his dark and melancholic 2003 production at Stratford-upon-Avon's Swan Theatre in 2003, was the first director to cast a black actress as Rosalind. Nina Sosanya was a tomboy, savvy, nobody's fool, harboring no romantic illusions about men. What she gained in physical quickness and a thoroughly modern sensibility was somewhat at the expense of Rosalind's potentially softer nature, especially in her dealings with her gentle and accommodating Orlando (Martin Hutson).