The New Vic kicks off its 2022 spring season with Shakespeare’s most musical and much loved comedy As You Like It, in a co-production with Northern Broadsides.
As You Like It, performed atthe New Vic from Friday 4 to Saturday 26 February before embarking on a national tour, will be directed by Northern Broadsides’ Artistic Director Laurie Sansom, with 12 northern actors bringing to life the vivid characters in this bold version of the much-loved comedy.
Beginning the year with a double-celebration, it sees both companies mark milestones – the New Vic theatre company’s 60th and Northern Broadsides’ 30th anniversaries.
Set in a stylish but stifling court, where the Duke is all powerful and brute strength is championed over basic human decency, the high-spirited Rosalind and devoted cousin Celia are no longer welcome. When they escape into the forest in disguise, they bump into the recent object of Rosalind’s affection, Orlando, leading to an elaborate game of fluid identity where all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.
As the seasons change in this magical place, normal roles dissolve and assumptions are turned on theirhead in this celebration of the transformative power of love and the natural world, featuring some of Shakespeare’s most vivid characters and memorable poetry, brought to life with an original set and high fashion costumes by E.M. Parry.
Featuring 12 fabulous Northern actors including non-binary and disabled performers, the As You Like It cast includes Bailey Brook (The Monster, New National Theatre Tokyo) as Silvius/Charles; Isobel Coward (Nicer Than Orange Squash, Leeds Playhouse) as Celia; Shaban Dar (Brink, Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester) as Orlando; Gemma Dobson (A Taste of Honey, National Theatre Tour and Oldham Coliseum) as Phoebe; Terri Jade Donovan (Julius Caesar, Lir Academy) as Audrey; Ali Gadema (A Museum in Baghdad, Royal Shakespeare Company) as Duke Frederick/Duke Senior; Claire Hackett (Quality Street, Northern Broadsides) as Adam/Corin; Reuben Johnson (The Teacher, Channel 5) as Oliver; Adam Kashmiry (Adam, the National Theatre of Scotland) as Jacques, Joe Morrow (Seussical, Arts Theatre London) as Touchstone; Jo Patmore (Frost Hollow Hall, East Riding Theatre) as Amiens/William and EM Williams (Dream, Royal Shakespeare Company) as Rosalind.
New Vic Artistic Director Theresa Heskins said: “It’s so great to be collaborating with our friends at Northern Broadsides once again. We have a long history of working together and I’m so pleased that we are able to continue our relationship as we head into a new year. As You Like It will open the New Vic’s Spring 2022 season and this much-loved comedy will, I think, give audiences a fantastic way to start the new year: a welcome escape into the joy of live performance.”
Northern Broadsides Artistic Director Laurie Sansom said: “This new production takes us deep into the joyful possibilities of ‘if’, and asks if all the world’s a stage, can all the men and women be whoever they want to be? Escaping from the toxic entertainment empire presided over by the explosive and ruthless Duke Ferdinand, where now even the drag queens aren’t allowed to step out of line, Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone make a break for it. They find themselves in a forest where gender, class and sexual desire seem fluid and as changeable as the seasons as old hierarchies crumble away. Of all of Shakespeare’s plays this feels the most restorative, opening up the possibility of making a new world based on open hearted acceptance of each other and living in harmony with the natural world. This feels like a play for our time, challenging us to imagine a new future that is more playful, accepting and connected.”
As You Like It takes to the stage at the New Vic from Friday 4 February to Saturday 26 February 2022, before embarking on a national tour. Tickets are on sale now, priced from £18.50 – £27.50. For more details and to book, call the Box Office on 01782 717 962 or visit newvictheatre.org.uk.