Making magic in The Castle Yard

WATCHING The Globe Theatre perform Shakespeare’s romantic comedy - As You Like It in the Castle Yard is mesmerising.

WATCHING The Globe Theatre perform Shakespeare’s romantic comedy - As You Like It in the Castle Yard is mesmerising.

The acting is flawless and of a calibre that is rarely seen. To find fault or flaw would be like picking a needle from a haystack. The story itself is amusing and there are plenty of laughs as characters cross dress and engage in both satirical dialogue and slapstick comedy. To gather in the heart of the city on a summer’s evening and be brought on a spectacular journey with skilled artists who performances are close to perfection is a privilege and there can be no disputing the decision to bring The Globe to the festival.

Unfortunately the seating (which is not tiered) made it difficult to see the actors without craning your neck or moving seats. Thankfully the rain held off for most of the performance and when it started I took refuge under the arch from where I had an excellent view.

The stage is based on paintings and etchings from Shakespeare’s time and gives the impression of a theatre within a bigger space. Much of the acting was done offstage and the music brought magic to the Castle Yard. There was no hesitation at the end of the play about whether or not to stand. The crowd jumped from their seats and engaged in rapportous applause and gave a standing ovation. One would guess that this production which is quite simply superb receives a similiar reaction after each performance.

The talents possessed by all the actors stretch into the spheres of song, music and dance as the audience follows the play’s heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle’s court, accompanied by her cousin Celia and Touchstone the court jester, to find safety and eventually love in the Forest of Arden.

Love is one of the central themes and it is manifested in its varied forms. In many of the love-stories, it is love at first sight. This principle of ‘love at first sight’ is seen in the love-stories of Rosalind and Orlando, Celia and Oliver, as well as Phebe and Ganymede.

This is the first time The Globe has performed in Ireland as director James Dacre brings his acclaimed production of one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies to Kilkenny. As You Like It tells the story of Rosalind, the daughter of a banished duke who falls in love with Orlando at a wrestling match, but her usurping uncle banishes her from court. Disguised as a boy, she seeks out her father and his friends in the Forest of Arden, and it’s there that she meets Orlando again. Filled with cross-dressing and love notes, poetry and brilliant conversation, satire, slapstick and passion, this gloriously funny romance is not to be missed.

The phrase ‘too much of a good thing’ is said to have originated in this romantic comedy. As far as The Globe Theatre are concerned you can’t get too much of a good thing and the audience are left both enchanted and amused as well as they ponder the famous work which was performed in the heart of the city on a summer’s night creating a stunning memory that will remain etched in their minds long after the Arts Festival is over. As You Like It runs until August 19 at the Castle Yard.

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