Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Rosalind loves Celia, but Celia’s clerical father does not love their relationship. Running into the forest, they change their identities, Rosalind becoming a man named Ganymede. By changing their appearance, their true selves are revealed both to each other and their visitors – brothers Orlando and Oliver – whilst Phebe and Silvius are already in the forest pursuing their own agenda and affairs of the heart; for Silvius this is Phebe but for Phebe, Ganymede. Love flows and we arrive at four lovers in love in a roundabout fashion, with the final revelations bringing harmony and acceptance all round.
The approach to this story begins with a contemporary twist, then meanders into As You Like It before returning with a confrontation with the Reverend father. Along the way we get an attempt to layer the LGBT agenda into the story which at times works, at other times just fails to hit the mark
The narrative splits itself between the modernity of the beginning and the end and the bit in the middle which is verse from As You Like It. The interesting idea, brought to the venture is that we explore how the underlying sexual suggestions, which hint at an LGBT agenda within the play, can be explored further. It is down this particular avenue we get some trouble.
The idea that a lesbian couple would end up being split up, as a lesser love, in a hierarchy of emotion is not, I am sure what was intended but it is what we get. Rosalind’s love for the man, Orlando, from the beginning is encouraged by her lover, Celia and when she goes in a huff because it has all worked out for Rosalind it seems that this same sex couple were always doomed to failure. Celia then, dealing with this rejection, conventionally falls for Oliver in quite a rapid fashion.
This has worthy, even lofty ambitions but the acting is a little patchy. Once the characters enter the forest it does, ironically, improve and we see some quite measured and decent performances of the verse. The scenes involving Silvius and Phoebe are a highlight whilst the arrival of Oliver makes a plot point less understandable than I had hoped. Celia going off into a relationship with him on what appears a whim is hard to reconcile. It needs more than just being in a huff with Ganymede after a relationship you encouraged flourishes.
There is some real innovation involved in the video work at the beginning and the ending makes reference to the whole event being one where the love you feel is the one you ought to celebrate. There is nothing with which you ought to argue there but I was not convinced the case was strongly made here. That having been said to have any production exploring these issues should be celebrated and debated and I am grateful that Typecast have taken this on. Despite there being blips along the way I did enjoy most of this. I wanted to celebrate more as I think it is a landmark for this cast in exploring the issues and how literature has evolved but still has hidden suggestions that are there to be explored. To that end it is a good attempt at making an entertainment out of a very important topic.