facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen.

As You Like It at the Novello theatre

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 6 June 2018

Following A Midsummer Night’s Dream, cavorting in the forest continues at the Novello theatre with As You Like It, the last of the four comedies presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. Dominic Cooke directs this production in which Barnaby Kay and Lia Williams star as the would-be lovers Orlando and Rosalind. Caroline Bishop went to the first night.

As the cast of As You Like It face the audience and sing Under The Greenwood Tree, they are literally under a greenwood tree. Rae Smith’s set is simple and striking – an enormous tree is the only fixture on stage, and it serves as the only backdrop throughout the whole play.

Most of the action is set in the Forest of Arden, where one Duke has been banished by another, his brother, both played by Jonathan Newth. Rosalind (Lia Williams), daughter of the banished, is herself told to leave the reigning Duke’s court, and so she disguises herself as a boy, Ganymede, and heads to the forest with her cousin Celia (Amanda Harris) in tow, to find her father. But not before she has locked eyes with the strapping Orlando (Barnaby Kay), son of the much revered Sir Rowland de Boys, who proves his worth by appearing at court, baring his torso and winning a rather comedy wrestling match. Instantly in love, as only a Shakespearian couple can be, Orlando and Rosalind go their separate ways, each swooning after the other.

The central plot of Rosalind and Orlando, with comic support from Celia, provides the most enjoyable part of the play and sets in motion much musing over the nature of love. When Rosalind, disguised as Ganymede, directs Orlando on how he should woo her, her idea of love shows that nothing has changed through the centuries and the basics remain the same today – turn up on time boys.

Shakespeare stirs numerous other couples into the big pot of love – shepherd boy Silvius (Jamie Ballard) and his reluctant amour Phebe (Caitlin Mottram), Celia and Orlando’s brother Oliver (John Mackay), who also fall in love with a single look, along with the fool Touchstone (Paul Chahidi) and the wonderfully grotty goatherd Audrey (Meg Fraser), who provides a touchingly comic moment at the end when she dresses in her wedding ‘finest’.

Lighting and sound are by two recent Laurence Olivier Award winners Paule Constable and Paul Arditti, who beautifully conjure the fantastical atmosphere of the forest. Constable’s lighting is for the most part sombre in the first, darker act, while the lighter moments in the second half are filled with sunshine as the lovers all get together for the inevitable happy ending.

As You Like It plays until 25 March at the Novello theatre.



Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.