All’s Well That Ends Well
‘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.
As You Like It – Sedos Production at Edinburgh Fringe Festival | Suite101.com
Just saw one of the best productions of Shakespeare’s As You Like It that I have ever seen. The performance, by the renowned London amateur company, Sedos, proves that there are highly talented performers active on the amateur boards.
The Stock Exchange Dramatic and Operatic Society excels once again with their innovative and unusual one-hour production of Shakepeare's As You Like It.
The Stock Exchange Dramatic and Operatic Society's (Sedos) unusual one-hour presentation of As You Like It will be presented at the Edinburgh Fringe from 19th-27th August 2012.The production has been designed and executed in a truly professional manner demonstrating there is no shortage of highly talented players active in amateur theatre.
As You Like It
Shakepeare's most popular tale is a delightful mix of romance, intrigue, and outright hilarity exploring themes of love and life, identity and independence, ageing and death. The heroine, Rosalind, daughter of a banished Duke falls in love with Orlando, son of one of the Duke's friends. When Rosalind is banished to the Forest of Arden by her uncle, Duke Frederick, she disguises herself as a boy, and calls herself Ganymede. Travelling with her cousin Celia and the jester Touchstone, she arrives at the Forest of Arden, where her father lives in exile with a group of friends.
As You Like It – The Sedos Production
With delightful costumes, no scenery whatsoever, and some of the finest text ever written, the performers, with nothing more on stage than a wicker hamper containing props, demonstrate how anything goes – anything can be As You Like It.
Shakespeare's heroine Rosalind is played by Fran Rafferty who brings a mischievous freshness to one of Shakespeare's best-loved female characters. Ms Rafferty is supported by a cast of talented performers who give their all to this performance.
A slick opening captures the audience's attention and keeps us on the edge of our seats right through to the final moments when, in the magical Forest of Arden, all wrongs are righted. Families are reunited and old squabbles are forgotten. Rosalind marries Orlando, Celia marries Orlando's brother Oliver... but wait – Sedos has added a new dimension to the story: the shepherd Silvius has become Silvia who openly proclaims her love for Phebe.
Directed by Zoë Thomas-Webb, with costume and design by Edith Webb, the production breathes new life into the Bard's well-known words. Scene changes are achieved by the simplest means: a scattering of white confetti creates winter, pink and white petals create spring, and colourful bunting indicates summer. Zoë Thomas-Webb spoke exclusively to Suite101 about the production:
Suite101: What were the hardest challenges for you as director?
Zoë Thomas-Webb: Creating a forest within a theatre is daunting, but because of our setting and concept of an Edwardian theatre troupe that creates an entire world with very little, it became less of an issue. Then, scaling down a three hour play to an hour was pretty scary – the edit is quite large! – but because As You Like It isn't as plot-driven as other Shakespeare comedies, it was easier to cut the show down to its principal moments.
Suite101: What do you feel are the most difficult aspects of this production from the cast's point of view, and how were they overcome?
Zoë: From my point of view, the hardest aspect of the production for the cast was incorporating all the different staging elements, from the music to the bunting, because most of the practicalities of the show are down to the cast, who must create the show as they act it. It puts more pressure on them than a show where a crew would be doing set changes. The cast have dealt amazingly well just by rehearsing the set changes and songs as much as they did the text.
Suite101: You've changed the male character Silvius into Silvia - what were the cast's reactions to this change?
Zoë: When I read As You Like It one of the hardest relationships for me to understand was Phebe and Silvius. She doesn't love him and he worships her: so far, so normal. But she was so vindictive in her hate, always poking and mocking Silvius. When they end up married it's a very sad ending. What I saw in Phebe was a confusion. She seemed unsure of what she wanted, and therefore taunted Silvius but always craved his attention. So my decision was to make "Silvius" a "Silvia," and make them a lesbian couple. It made their ultimate discovery of love a celebration rather than a settling-for. It made sense to me in terms of our setting, the themes of the play, and Phebe's confusion within the text. I can't speak for the cast, but I hope they found it as interesting to work on as I did.
Suite101: As You Like It will be showing at the Edinburgh Fringe - what are the major difficulties in adapting a play designed for one venue to suit another, in such a short space of time?
Zoë: Once we had secured a venue in Edinburgh (Monkey House at ZOO), we decided to find a London venue that suited the show rather than forcing the show into a venue it didn't suit. We picked the Winterflood as it is a thrust stage like our Edinburgh venue. We will, of course, face blocking problems when we transition to Edinburgh, but I think it's best to tackle such problems when you get to them, rather than try to plan for all foreseeable events as you are then inevitably faced with problems you didn't plan for. The cast is quite flexible and I am confident they'll roll with any changes – after all, their characters stay the same.
Finally, I asked Zoë what plans Sedos has for the future?
Zoë: Sedos are planning two large scale productions for their winter season; House and Garden by Alan Ayckbourn and Guys and Dolls by Lerner and Lowe. They will be performed at Sedos' resident theatre, The Bridewell.
Where to See As You Like It
As You Like It will be presented at the Fringe from 19th-27th August. This will be Sedos' fifth appearance at the Fringe and promises to be every bit as successful as previous tours which have included Sexual Perversity in Chicago and Six Degrees of Separation (2005); Mary Stuart and The Odd Couple (2007); Don Carlos (2008) and The Tragedy of the Prince of Denmark (2010). Further details and tickets are available from Monkey House at ZOO Venues. The Edinburgh tour will be followed by a Gala performance at the Stock Exchange, London, on 30th August. Tickets are available from Sedos Box Office.
Friday August 31st, 2012 14:43
This colourful, boisterous performance tells Shakespeare’s fantastical tale with much hilarity, and the cast’s tongue in cheek humour and playful energy make this a very entertaining hour. Adding charm to this performance is the sense of place, as we are transported from palace court to snowy woodland and back again, all by way of the contents of a seemingly bottomless wicker picnic hamper. This device gives this show an impromptu feel which is very appealing, and the addition of song just adds to the overall harmony as we follow the story with giggles and the reassuring knowledge that everything will work out in the end. Sedos’ version of this classic play is silly, sweet, and very witty.
Zoo, 19 – 27 Aug, 12.30pm
tw rating 4/5 | [Pallavi Patel]
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