The verdict – certainly not Shakespeare as you know I, but can we be surprised by that given recent productions of Shakespeare and non-Shakespeare at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre?
The play came replete with music, and while some Shakespeare plays did have songs and music to go with it, it didn’t have these. The music had a country and western vibe that also reflected the setting for much of the play when in the forest of Arden, it was more the Bayou than Arden.
Unfortunately the first half never really gets going, its stilted both in direction and in the delivery of the lines. The frequent set changes means none of the actors could get into the rhythm of the text. Thankfully this was sorted by second half where the actors, in the main, were able to do the text justice.
It is of course a romantic comedy and there are some very funny bits thanks to Danny Kirrane as Touchstone the clown, though much of this does come from the use of modern pop culture (Beyoncé and more) rather than the original text. While there were a number of flat performances, there were, thankfully, some very good ones, especially from both Olivia Vinall and Maureen Beattie as Rosalind and Jaques respectively.
What made very little sense was the use of water and the opening song following audio recordings about flooding and plastic pollution of the sea. It had no connection with the play and was mostly there just to make a political statement, it was somewhat undermined when later in the play they released a balloon to just float off, come down somewhere as non degrading rubbish.
The Open Air Theatre