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Review Round-Ups

As You Like It divides the critics

Polly Findlay's production received mixed reviews at the National

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Matt Trueman, WhatsOnStage


"It is, in short, one for the history books."

"All this taps into something deeply contemporary – the desire to throw off the trappings and comforts of modern life. Alan Williams's Corin becomes truly enviable: his simplicity, a strength; his slowness, a virtue."

"There have been funnier As You Like Its, for sure - despite the total brilliance of Patsy Ferran's fidgety, clumsy-thumbsy Celia – but it's rarely as rich or as revitalised as this."

Michael Billington, The Guardian


"Polly Findlay has come up with an idiosyncratic, richly textured As You Like It that builds to a joyous conclusion. But, although the evening has its pleasures, you come out discussing the visual concept rather than the actors' performances."

"You certainly get a sense of the magical otherness of Arden but, for all the visual bravura, I rarely felt transported emotionally. Rosalie Craig is a strikingly beautiful, Titian-haired Rosalind but, although she tells us "love is merely a madness", I felt she was always in full possession of her faculties."

"The other performances are a mixed bag. Mark Benton's Touchstone is an earthy, common-sensical clown who makes good use of live actors scrambling around as woolly sheep to point up the danger of earning a living "by the copulation of cattle"."

Alice Saville, Time Out


"Polly Findlay's stunning new production turns its surreal charms into a Technicolor wonderland that's full of warmth, as well as nonsense, with [Rosalie] Craig as its Queen of Hearts."

"Lizzie Clachan's design manages the visual transition from repressive order to wild wood chaos with the most spectacular scene change the National has housed in years."

"In a typically perverse move for this weirdest of plays, the biggest speech is given to a melancholy outsider who stands apart from its tangled love games...His awkwardness is all the more poignant in a production that's brilliantly natural, fresh, and bang up to date."

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail


"The design loonies have struck again at the Royal National Theatre and playwright Shakespeare has been left trailing a very poor second to a showy-offy director, Polly Findlay, and her accomplices."

"Rosalie Craig gives us a fine Rosalind, Joe Bannister is handsome and inoffensive as Orlando and I slowly warmed to Mark Benton's cliche-Northerner Touchstone and his plump shepherdess (Siobhan McSweeney)."

"Orlando Gough's clever music creates an odd mood – a sort of ecclesiastical Swingle Singers. It may not exactly suit the play but I expect it will be much copied. But, oh, all that ruddy furniture hanging down! It makes it impossible to escape the dreariness of the court. Could we not have had trees?"

Henry Hitchings, The Evening Standard


"Crucially, there's bright chemistry between Craig and Patsy Ferran as her cousin Celia, apparently a wide-eyed innocent yet capable of mischief. There's less sizzle between Rosalind and Joe Bannister's wholesome Orlando, who woos her with awful verse written on Post-It notes."

"Mark Benton's engaging Touchstone feels underused, while Paul Chahidi's take on Jacques is detailed - but his fastidiously thoughtful rendition of the "seven ages of man" speech is laborious rather than fresh."

"Polly Findlay's production...at first seems too ingenious for its own good. It's sprinkled with original touches and handles the conclusion with satisfying warmth. But it isn't entirely at ease with the play's slippery comedy or hints of darkness."

Ann Treneman, The Times


"There can be no doubt that Findlay is trying to put on the 2015 version. This is Shakespeare as sketch, always just a bit over the top, going for the easy laugh."

"The look-at-me, licence-to-thrill set threatens to overwhelm but the night is saved by Rosalie Craig as Rosalind and Patsy Ferran as Celia. Craig has real star appeal and when she competes with the set, she tends to win. Ferran is wide-eyed and hilariously disjointed. They make a great double act."

"It's all just a bit too, well, sketchy."

As You Like It runs at the National Theatre until 5th March. It broadcasts via NT Live on 26th February.