Opening with Celia and Rosalind enjoying the music of the folk band and Orlando (randomly) showing his worth by doing laps of the stage was the introduction to the latest offering from this year’s Everyman Open Air Theatre Festival.
As Celia and Rosalind enjoyed the band, so Rosalind began the play with ‘The Parting Glass’, absolutely beautiful, and if like me you can’t quite place it, but remember the lyrics, at midnight, you just may have heard the song intervening on an Ed Sheeran album.
And so it begins, Shakespeare’s most light-hearted of comedies, and in this setting, within the wonderful surroundings of Sophia Gardens, so you are hook lined in to this more female oriented of productions, because I guess that is the interpretation, that Duchesses prevail where Dukes once stood. Is that so much of a challenge? To traditionalists maybe a challenge, but for a play providing Shakespeare’s longest female role, a little more balance through the play can only be a good thing as our world evolves.
For me, what completely made this play, and no doubt for any one fearing a Shakespearian production is the integration of music throughout, the folk band spend the majority of time within the play and ensure what can sometimes be a difficult text is set within musical interludes which fully engage.
The play itself is easier to engage than other Shakespearean plays, and even if at times the dialogue is difficult, the talent of the actors plays through to ensure the humour is conveyed.
The cast is instantly likeable and engaging, Orlando (Eifion Ap Cadno) and Adam (Arnold Phillips) were wonderful. Obviously Orlando, the language was so well conveyed on stage but I particularly loved the way this relationship unfolded.Bridie Smith’s Rosalind was every inch the friend you recognised which you couldn’t place, every inch the fiesty female, engaging, loveable and convincing. With beautiful voice and engaging relationships the humour of woman as man as woman stood up to expectations of the Shakespearian play.
The play is wonderfully conveyed, well-balanced, well sung and well humoured
It is a joy to know that a Shakespearian text, whilst possibly perceived dry and aged, can be brought to an audience with engagement, comedy and love- the real ingredients of a play whether four hundred years old or being brought to television as a screenplay.
Everyman doesn’t disappointment by creating this for every audience, and within Sophia Gardens it provides the perfect atmosphere for first timers and lovers of the Bard.
As part of the festival until the 1st August it is definitely a must for those considering a new theatre experience or for those wishing to live a little with Shakespearian plays.
Disclosure: I was invited to the Everyman Festival for the purposes of this review. All opinions and views contained are my own.