National Theatre, Olivier
Director: Polly Findlay
Talent: Rosalie Craig, Joe Bannister, Matk Benton (Touchstone), Paul Chahidi (Jacques)
Club: RM, Emma, RW, RP, NM, WW
"Over-directed", muttered Mr RM at half-time, referring not least to the preposterous set, which, whatever the clever interpretive thinking or the brilliantly theatrical execution involved, struck me - and indeed most of us, I think - as mere whimsy, detracting rather than adding to what is indeed an almost whimsical play. Whimsy of genius of course. Again at half time Mr NM thought the performances "uneven". The second half, in which the weight of interest shifts from Rosalind's relationship with Celia to her training up of Orlando, was tremendously well-paced and funny. Rosalind takes the play by the scruff of the neck, and, as it were, directs the action. "They played it like children, they seemed to be having fun," remarked NM at the end, and even the hey nonny-no's that sometimes infuriate Mr RW were acceptable. The club has seen AYLI twice before - both RSC productions - in 2006 (Lia Williams) and 2009 (Katy Stephens). I don't remember either very well, although I do rate Victoria Hamilton's Michael Grandage-directed go at the Lyric Hammersmith in 1999 as amongst the best Shakespeare productions I have ever seen. This one may live in the memory - I hope not merely for the upside down furniture.