Thursday, July 12, 2012

As You Like It -Review- The Castle Players

As You Like It
The Castle Players
Bowes Museum.
11 July 2012

With recent nasty horrible weather that we in the North East have been dealt with, my invite to review The Castle Players interpretation of Shakespeare's As You Like It, seemed like a good idea at the time.
I love outdoorsy theatre, but sitting in the wind/rain/snow isn't necessarily my idea of fun. So armed with my best waterproofs and Kiss Me Quick hat I trundled off to deepest darkest Barnard Castle, home to a rather splendid Bowes Museum.
I must have been to Bowes as a kid, but can't remember the grounds (maybe we looked at the prices, and did a flit.. haha) so when I picked up my tickets and were accompanied to my seats, by a costumed up actor, I was greeted to such a wonderful stage setting. Cottage with smoke billowing, a wonderful massive tree (not a prop, a proper one) lute players and wonderful fauna - I knew I was in for something special.
I am still getting to grips with Mr Shakespeare and his wonderful words, so I didn't know this play from Adam, so saw it as a challenge.
The first challenge tho was the weather, that hurdle was swiftly jumped over as it was a beautiful night (very muddy under-foot, but only a few spits of rain (it is refreshing to see other parts of the country getting the nasty conditions for a change)).
So to As You Like It....this is a fairly complicated comedy to roll out in a few words, but Orlando is mistreated badly by his brother Oliver, who in turn arranges a bout with the Dukes wrestler. Oliver wants his brother badly injured. Watching the sport is the Dukes daughter Celia, who of course falls in love with Orlando. But of course the levelled path to love is always bumpy when Shakey gets his hands on that quill. Rosalind, Celia's friend is also smitten, gives Orlando a necklace and he promptly falls in love with her.
In the Forest of Arden (our tree) the court jester, Touchstone is fooling around with Ganymede, and his sister, Aliena, (this of course is the grand tradition of cross dressing in plays, cos these people are actually Celia and Rosalind).. Are you lost yet? I think I am starting to get that way, but that is the Shakespearean way of course. They encounter a young shepherd, Silvius, and watch him being rejected by a shepherdess, Phoebe, as he declares his love for her.
Orlando meanwhile hangs love poems on the tree, which the group find and help him overcome his heart.
In short true courses don't run smoothly with jealously and in fighting taking over. Touchstone finds love out there too. The forest is a special place.
I admit my synopsis of the play is erratic, not wanting to give too much away, getting into The Bards way of thinking and expressions is tough going for a novice like me...but it doesn't matter how I convey this, just make sure you see it. Fantastic acting, fantastic setting, friendly people to chat to from the Company. This a WOW production. All glittery with the bells on.
If you love like I do the outdoors coupled with AMAZING theatre productions you will love this..!!
Simon Pell and Mary Stastny  have done a pretty super job of directing their team of (it seemed like hundreds) actors, to perform this well, no not this well.... this magnificently.

Runs until 14th.

Michael Hunter

P.s. I will attach actors names to characters soon.


  1. THanks for your enthusiastic review! Glad you liked it-

    Mary Stastny, the other director!

  2. Ah Mary Mary, sorry for your non entry. I ill amend ASAP.Thanks for your words.