‘As You Like It’ is one of those Shakespeare plays that has eluded me and Sedos Theatre’s production was perhaps the best way to be introduced to this play. Told by those who evidently have a deep set understanding and respect for the text, the story is excellently executed so that not a line is out of place or superfluous to their storytelling cause.
The overall design was incredibly creative and brilliantly executed. A single large hamper on the stage transformed into everything from a bench to a hiding place. It even had bunting that sprouted from it, presenting itself as a very rectangular maypole. The hamper was also functional, storing additional props and costume. Snow and flower petals were sprinkled across the floor to denote the change in seasons; this was simple but led to an incredibly effective set.
There are no weak performances from any member of the cast, each an integral link in a strong company. Fran Rafferty as Rosalind deserves particular praise. Her performance was flawless; engaging and entertaining from the very beginning, she brilliantly portrayed both facets of her character with ease and confidence. An extremely expressive actress with brilliant comic timing, she effortlessly captivated the attention of the audience whenever she was on stage. Jack Lowe as Touchstone did well to steer clear of the stereotypes of the court fool, producing a convincing and charming performance. In addition, Alexander Baker’s Jacques was enchanting, and his delivery of the famous ‘All the world’s a stage’ speech brought a smile to my face with its sheer simplicity and brilliance.
Billed as ‘The City of London’s premier amateur theatre company’, Sedos is so close to being professional it hurts. Outstandingly polished performances, brilliant direction and joy in creating theatrical masterpieces makes these young actors ones to watch.