Gary Raymond casts a critical eye over Theatr Clwyd’s latest production, a classic retelling of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
With the overall success of the National Theatre Wales’ inaugural year in 2011 it may have been tempting for the nation’s erstwhile top theatre company, Mold’s Theatr Clwyd, to either fade coyly into the shadows or lurch ungracefully into populist jazz-hands revues. But Clwyd have thankfully stuck to their guns and come up with this solid, enjoyable and somewhat formidably professional production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
A first half generally lacking in energy and generally played out in a forced monochrome only served to emphasise everything the production got right in the second half. The light comedy became bright and bawdy, with Christian Patterson’s show-
The casting was impeccable, although the opening few scenes did not inspire as much confidence as one walked from the theatre with. Daniel Llewelyn-
Dyfrig Morris’s dual performance, starting with his imposing presence as the serious Duke Frederick, stands for a marker for the production as a whole, for when he returns in the second half as the simple farmer’s boy William, he is so toweringly stupid, so ludicrous, a cross between Kasper Hauser and an oak tree mid-
Philip Bretherton as Jacques, hampered perhaps by being the most recognisable face on the stage, is authoritative, avuncular and Machiavellian-
Bretherton manages to deliver the ‘All the World’s a Stage’ speech with a fresh seriousness, and makes one of the Bard’s most easily recollected musings seem less familiar. The delivery of it, in fact, marks the end of the undercooked first half and opens the way for the unrestrained full-
Theatr Clwyd’s As You Like It is façade, and in the second half the play holds tightly to that line between the reality and the theatricality of what Shakespeare was offering his audience. Many productions miss this as they concentrate on the jokes, but here Theatr Clwyd, in the end, did not miss a trick. The disappointment in the set in the first half of the play (an almost Brechtian colonnade, which lingers a little too long), is replaced with evidence that confidence in Terry Hands’ vision is well-
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