FUN, is the best word to describe As You Like It, now playing at Bard on the Beach, alternating nights with Macbeth. While Macbeth is a brooding, dark, and classic production, As You Like It is the complete opposite; lively, bright and a mash-up Bard-Beatles musical production.
That’s right, the music of The Beatles plays a big role in director Daryl Cloran’s production for the Bard on the Beach stage. Sure to be a summer hit, Cloran has seamlessly moved As You Like It from the 1600s in Frances’ Forest of Arden, to the swinging 60s in the Okanagan. Large parts of Shakespeare’s dialogue has been brilliantly replaced with the word of Lennon & McCartney. With 25 Beatles songs included in this mash-up, it is remarkable how well the music fits the story and doesn’t clash with the Bard’s comedic vision.
The romantic comedy is filled with classic Shakespearean plot devices; mistaken identities & alter-egos, difficult family dynamics, class struggles, romantic triangles, comedic sidekicks plus more to keep you laughing. Walking into the BMO Mainstage at Bard on the Beach, the audience is greeted by an All-Star Wrestling ring, signalling that this will not be an ordinary evening of Shakespeare. The hero Orlando, strives to better himself in life (and in the ring) but when the evil promotor, Duke Frederick finds out his parentage Orlando is exiled. In the meantime, young Orlando has fallen for the Duke’s niece Rosalind, who also comes to be banished, like her father Duke Senior, by her power hungry uncle. In the company of her cousin, Frederick’s daughter Celia flee, Rosalind taking the disguise of a young lad, Ganymeade and Celia as his sister, Aliena. All roads lead to the Okanagan, where Duke Senior and his fellow banished nobles have founded a commune filled with peace and love. Of course nothing is simple on the path to romance, as we are reminded by Rosalind and Celia’s faithful servant, Touchstone, ‘because it’s Shakespeare’. In the end, we of course are rewarded with the happy ending for most of the characters.
The setting, costumes and story perfectly fit in The Beatles music, and the cast, most of whom are also the company for Macbeth, bring the music and comedy to life with flair and flares. Nadeem Phillip brings a exuberant charm and solid vocals to his leading man Orlando. While Lindsey Angell’s Rosalind plots to connect the dots in everyone’s journey to love, her chemistry and voice pairs nicely with Nadeem making us all cheer for our lovebirds. Harveen Sandhu as Celia standouts with her powerful vocals and charisma. The comedic timing of Kayvon Khoshkam as the ‘Rod Stewart meets Austin Powers’ modfather, Touchstone, brings a smile and many laughs to As You Like It from start to finish.
The buzz is surely to build for As You Like It as the summer progresses so be sure to book your tickets sooner than later so not to miss out on one of the most fun evenings of theatre this season.
As You Like It runs until September 22nd at the Bard on the Beach BMO Mainstage, alternate nights with Macbeth.