One of the cast of Northern Broadsides company has fallen ill and a stand-in had to be found.
The production is described as multi-cultural and gender-diverse - and 'a joyous ‘play for our times’.
It is Northern Broadsides first full production since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
Directed by Laurie Sansom and designed by EM Parry, it’s performed by 12 Northern actors including non-binary and disabled performers: Bailey Brook, Isobel Coward, Shaban Dar, Gemma Dobson, Terri Jade Donovan, Ali Gadema, Claire Hackett, Reuben Johnson, Adam Kashmiry, Joe Morrow, Jo Patmore and EM Williams.
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 their head in this celebration of the transformative power of love and the natural world, featuring some of Shakespeare’s most vivid characters and memorable poetry.
Laurie Sansom, Artistic Director of Northern Broadsides, said: “The Forest of Arden is a place where “if” runs rampant. People adopt new names, new clothes and new lovers. They experience new feelings and dive into them willy-nilly, they play many parts and make many entrances and exits. It’s as if everyone has stepped through the wardrobe into another world but not without taking a lot of fabulous clothes with them.
“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 can be seen in the Round from Wednesday March 16 to Saturday March 19, daily at 7.30pm with matinees at 1.30pm on Thursday March 17 and 2.30pm on Saturday March 19.
Tickets, priced from £10, are available from the box office on 01723 370541 and online at www.sjt.uk.com