Riding on the success of last year’s excellent production of A Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare Napa Valley launched themselves into the deep end with an incredibly daring adaptation of As You Like It
With no sets, no period costumes, no shoes and no stage directions - the production was a blank canvas and a soundboard for the actors’ voices.
The actors interacted fearlessly with the audience, even handing out Orlando’s love letter carvings to audience member ‘trees’ and speaking directly to them, at times with hilarious consequences.
The cast had an interesting take on many of the characters, especially Celia (daughter of the treacherous Duke Frederick), who behaved less like a princess and more like an untrained puppy. The acting was of an exceptional quality and George Bryan, who played both Dukes, slipped effortlessly from the angry and jealous Duke Frederick, to the fatherly and compassionate Duke Senior, sometimes with barely a second in-between.
The worry with a play which has been adapted so many times is that the key speeches will be stale and unoriginal. However, this was not the case with Napa Valley’s As You Like It. John Bond, who played Jacques, recited the famous speech ‘All the world’s a stage’ with a wide eyed wonder, making it fresh and new.
The only thing which detracted from my enjoyment of the performance was the irritating and wholly unnecessary recorded birdsong which played throughout.
Overall, the production was brave, daring and so much fun. A brilliant introduction to Shakespeare for theatre goers of any age and a definite must see for all Shakespeare buffs.