WITH a fine cast of multi-talented performers, an innovative adaptation and the stunning backdrop of the ruined Stafford Castle, it would have been difficult for The Stafford Shakespeare Festival to fail to deliver with As You Like It.
And, once again, this popular event lived up to expectation.
One of Shakespeare’s less popular plays, As You Like It was a voyage of discovery for me.
Telling the confused story of the romance of Rosalind and Orlando, the script was delivered perfectly by this small cast, who brought it to life in the 1960s period.
The contrast of the oppression of the Cold War and the freewheeling hippy life of the forest, where characters are banished in exile, worked extremely well.
Complete with bright flowing clothes, a VW Camper and songs from the era, it gave a fun, and at some points, poignant, feeling to the piece. The music, in particular, was used in such a way that it really enhanced the piece.
In fact, the singing was one of the high points, for me.
All the cast got involved, including the melancholy Jacques, played by Only Fools and Horses favourite John Challis, who pitched his performance just right. The oft-quoted speech ‘All the World’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’ was greeted with well-deserved applause.
Comedy stalwart Eric Potts was incredible as Touchstone. His timing and exquisite facial expressions made him the absolute star of the show. Paired with his paramour Audrey, he added a pleasing silliness to the piece.
Credit also must go to Georgina White, as gender-bending Rosalind/Ganymede, and her sidekick Celia/Aliena, played by Jennifer Greenwood, and Johnson Willi, who played Adam and Corin.
This was the second year I have been to the festival, and I’m already looking forward to next year.
The festival runs until July 12. Tickets can be booked by calling 01785 254653.