There is a moment in the production of As You Like It, now showing at Shakespeare's Globe, in which the stage becomes a forest.
It takes only a split second but suddenly, once the action leaves court, a maze of trees is revealed. With a dubious English sky overhead and the dirty Thames sloshing behind, it is a magical transformation.
This canny stage dress entices the audience into the forest, but it is kept there – willingly – by the expert players who populate it.
Shakespeare's usual concoction of cross-dressing, confused young lovers and saucy language combine merrily in this playful production. From Touchstone the fool's jigs and gallops to the young Phoebe's apparently citrus-induced gurning, Thea Sharrock's production is truly delightful.
Most expertly, Sharrock's direction makes full use of the stage and its appendages, the yard and even the galleries. This seems perfectly apt for a play that contains the memorable line, "All the world's a stage", an insight that keeps audience members on their toes as the complexities of human life are revealed.
Not least how we are entirely capable of believing that the Globe can become a forest.
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