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William Shakespeare: As You Like It


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Thea Sharrock's irresistible new production of Shakespeare's popular
romantic comedy stirs wit, sentiment, intrigue and love into a
charming confection which challenges the traditional rules of romance.
At its heart, a feisty but feminine Rosalind (Naomi Frederick), in love
with the endearingly naïve Orlando (Jack Laskey), uses her disguise as
Ganymede to counsel him playfully in the art of wooing. Distraction is
provided by Dominic Rowan, a remarkably funny Touchstone, and
Tim McMullan, whose sonorous tones are perfectly suited to the
lugubrious wit of Jaques. Filmed in High Definition and true surround
sound.

Review

All the world is indeed a stage in this ebullient production of the play which contains those famous lines. It was filmed during performances at Shakespeare's Globe theatre, the reproduction of the original Globe in London. Using not only the stage, but also the audience and its space, this production of one of Shakespeare's finest comedies goes beyond the normal boundaries that separate actors and spectators to provide an innovative version. There are no slow moments here, as a fine team of actors brings the forest of Arden to the bare stage of the Globe.

As You Like It is one of Shakespeare's "women in drag" plays, where a woman (originally played by a male actor in Shakespeare's time) pretends to be a man, then "comes out" at the end of the play. A simple love story which multiplies to, in the end, involve four couples, there is much splendid wordplay, and humorous situations abound.

In some ways, one must consider this to be a "historically informed performance". With the limits of the replica of the original Globe Theatre, it's all up to the actors to create the sets and ambience of the different locations. And this group of talented actors acquits itself well. With fine performers in the lead roles, and an excellent ensemble for the smaller roles, the play is brought to life with verve and wit. The comedic aspect is played up, leading it to border on the slapstick, unlike many other staid versions. It works well, giving the play a rhythm that, after the first few scenes, never lets up.

Jack Laskey's Orlando shines, with his leading-man looks, and his restrained yet effective portrayal of the love-sick youth. The object of his affection, Rosalind, is played by Naomi Frederick, who overdoes it a bit, and whose face tends to scowl whether she tries to show anger or happiness. But they work well together, and Frederick is a convincing young man - as her character plays for much of the performance. Dominic Rowan is a wonderful Touchstone, with some anachronistic bits thrown in to keep his character on the edge, and Tim McMullan's melancholic Jaques is near perfect.

Aside from the wonderful location and the use of audience space for many of the scenes, this DVD benefits from excellent camera work and direction. There are quite a few cameras, and one never tires with long shots from a single point. The editing is brisk but not overdone, and after a few minutes, one feels immersed in the intimacy of the theatre.

I'm looking forward to seeing other plays recorded in this theatre. The quality of the performance combined with the excellent camera work and editing make this a must-have for any fan of Shakespeare. And seeing the play performed in a theatre so close to Shakespeare's own makes it all the more interesting. -- MusicWeb International, Kirk McElhearn


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Brendon Hughes, Jack Laskey, Trevor Martin, Jamie Parker, Naomi Frederick
  • Directors: Thea Sharrock
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1), English (PCM2 .0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: June 29, 2010
  • Run Time: 149 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003H0ZGWW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,439 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "William Shakespeare: As You Like It" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By E. S. Wilks on August 2, 2010
Format: DVD
Thea Sharrocks's "As You Like It" is a welcome addition to filmed versions of the play. The most accessible films are the BBC/TimeLife version from the late 1970s and the 2006 Kenneth Branagh film set in Japan both of which suffer from the effort to make the Forest of Arden a realistic rather than magical place of our imagination. The plainness of the Globe stage allows Shakespeare's words and characters to transport us from the corrupt, violent court to the pastoral world of the forest where all are welcomed and accepted for who they are. The transformation from court to forest is simply shown by the removal of black draperies from the columns to reveal plain wood 'trees,' which allow us to enter a world of music and tranquility.
The production is spirited and lively and the actors certainly seem to be enjoying it. There is tremendous sense of fun. The only slightly sour note is the unnecessarily violent expulsion of Oliver by Duke Frederick.
As Rosalind, one of the most demanding female roles in Shakespeare, Naomi Frederick performs superbly, portraying a woman of wit and intelligence while maintaining a balance between femininity and masculinity. Moving easily between Rosalind and Ganymede, she is in control while indulging in witty banter with Orlando but reveals her feminine vulnerability to Aliena as soon as he has gone. She is ably supported by Laura Rogers as Celia/Aliena, who conveys a warmth and sense of humor not often seen in this role. Jack Laskey as Orlando is suitably 'Byronic' as the romantic hero who needs to learn from Rosalind that his unrealistic view of love can lead only to disillusionment.
The Jaques of Tim McMullan is a fresh interpretation of the part.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Albany Reader on August 17, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
O wonderful, wonderful! And most wonderful, wonderful! And yet again wonderful! And after that out of all whooping! This is such a joyful production of As You Like It, which is perhaps Shakespeare's most joyful play. E.S. Wilks' review expresses better than I can much of what is excellent about this performance. (After watching this DVD, I began to fantasize about whether Shakespeare, having created the marvelous Jacques with his "melancholy of [his] own, compounded of many simples," wondered how the character would fare in a tragedy and wrote Hamlet. I caught a glimpse of Jacques as an older Hamlet who, in an alternative universe, had decided not to return to the Danish court after his abortive voyage to England.)
Filmed live performances often have an archival feel to them; if the production was good, you're glad to have it, but it's a far cry from being there. In this DVD, the audience is part of the set and the performance. (And after watching the frightening aging of the Shakespeare audience in this country, it was a joy to see so many young faces in the audience obviously enjoying themselves.) The editing and use of multiple cameras is superb. This is not just a record of a live performance; it is a work of art in its own right. Although performed in Elizabethan costume in the replica of the Globe Theater (complete with groundings leaning on the stage), it is far from a museum piece. The jazz music during the "intermission" and curtain calls worked well. Instead of a faithful representation of what a performance might have looked and sounded like in 17th century London, we get an impression of what it might have felt like to be a member of that audience. All the humor and humanity is returned to the play.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Davidson on February 20, 2011
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I was torn between awarding this production four or five stars, finally opting for four.

On the positive side, it is a highly competent production with very few false notes. The actors are uniformly good (without being excellent-- more on that below), and it moves along at a nice brisk pace, completely avoiding the heaviness and misplaced solemnity of lesser productions. It's also a huge plus that it is a record of an actual stage production, meaning the text survives virtually intact, and the sense of live occasion is vividly recreated.

What gives me pause, however, is the lack of truly stand-out performances among the principals. Only Tim McMullen's Jaques strikes me as truly inspired casting, as he has the requisite charisma to carry a role that is most successful when the performer is able to generate audience sympathy from force of personality alone. Touchstone is a similar type of role, and while I certainly find Dominic Rowan's Touchstone competent (and even quite amusing at times), he is not as memorable as he could (and should) be. There is little comparison between him and Lewis Gordon's Touchstone in the CBC production (sadly, very difficult to find on DVD), much less Alfred Molina in Branagh's film version (who manages to make a huge impact, despite having a substantial number of his lines cut).

While it would be an exaggeration to say Jack Laskey's Orlando grates, his propensity for inserting little micro-pauses in the middle of lines (presumably to make them seem spontaneously generated) quickly becomes a predictable mannerism, ironically making the performance seem more studied, not less. Naomi Frederick's Rosalind is, in my view, better, but not a stand-out.
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