Last night, I got to visit a brand new theatre – the glamorous @sohoplace, just opened right in the heart of London. Being at this new theatre for opening night was so exciting, and the atmosphere was buzzing. It was press night for As You Like It – the fun and playful adaption of Shakespeare’s classic by Josie Rourke.
Nica Burns’ exciting new venue is striking, with screens lighting up Tottenham Court Road, catching your eye as soon as you step out of the station.
This new theatre is stunning, with the stylish Stars bar and elegant décor in blue and gold. The auditorium is spacious yet intimate, with seats all around the stage. The play was set in the round, with the intimacy of a cabaret.
The play stars the incredible Leah Harvey as Rosalind and Alfred Enoch as Orlando. Funnily enough, the last Shakespeare play I saw also starred Enoch as Romeo at The Globe. Fans of Harry Potter will recognise him as playing Dean Thomas in the films.
Rose Ayling-Ellis (Eastenders, winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2021) stars as Celia and Martha Plimpton is captivating as Jaques. Also worth a mention is Mary Malone as Phoebe, whose comic timing is brilliant.
The show incorporates British Sign Language (BSL), with Celia and her cousin Rosalind communicating solely in BSL. Celia often looks to her cousin to translate for her when others are speaking, and at one point Oliver (Ben Wiggins) tries to learn BSL in order to communicate with her. This is a great addition to the play, and is beautifully done. The visual language lends itself so well to Shakespeare. There are surtitles all the way through, which I actually found really helpful for following the story.
A grand piano forms the centrepiece of the stage, with the actors interacting playfully with the pianist throughout – requesting songs, asking him to shush, and even playing it themselves. There’s even a request for a romantic tune from Orlando, as he improvises a song for Rosalind. There’s a lot of singing throughout, with some of the verse adapted to song, which adds a great amount of atmosphere.
Overall, it’s a fun, engaging and loveable play. Great for fans of Shakespeare or for those wanting to try something new. It was the first time I’d seen As You Like It, and I found the storyline easy to follow with this adaptation. Grab your tickets now!