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A CurtainUp London London Review
The Bridge Project 2010 - As You Like It and The Tempest

True is it that we have seen better days. — Duke Senior
The Bridge Project 2010 - As You Like It and The Tempest
Stephen Dillane as Jacques
(Photo: Joan Marcus)
This year the Old Vic Theatre in London is the final port of call for Sam Mendes Bridge Project with two Shakespeare plays linked by the deposed dukes in the Forest of Arden and on Prospero's island. Like my American counterparts reviewing for Curtain Up in New York, I greatly preferred As You Like It, not so much for its brutal scenes in the court but for the scenes in the forest. I preferred Juliet Rylance's boyish Ganymede to her sadder Rosalind but the highlight for me was Thomas Sadoski's witty Touchstone. The warm humour of this actor brought us a true comedy with his courtship of the delightful Jenni Barber as Audrey and complemented by the relationship between country bumpkin Silvius (Aaron Krohn) and the aspirational Phoebe (Ashlie Atkinson). Michelle Beck as Celia made the most of her supporting role to Rosalind conveying true friendship although the transformation of Oliver (Edward Bennett) into Celia's lover never really convinces especially after the cruelty of his earlier scenes.

A question mark for me was the way initially Christian Camargo as Orlando was speaking the verse, ignoring punctuation in order to convey the metre which I thought was going to be disastrous with its sing-song delivery. However he too improved under the cover of the greenwood tree although I never really believed in the romance with Rosalind, despite the number of love odes pinned to the trees professing otherwise.

Stephen Dillane's Bob Dylan rendering of Jacques' song hits the spot with humour, the perfect fit between Dylan's songs of longing and freedom and Jacques' perspective of life in the forest. The finishing line with the harmonica solo is a triumph! Interesting that it is Jacques who chooses not to return to the former dukedom but announces that he will live in a cave so that in the next play we can believe the reclusive Jacques has mutated into the bookish Prospero.

For The Tempest director Mendes has the whole cast onstage for all of the play in the background so Stephen Dillane as Prospero works on his laptop while Trinculo (Anthony O'Donnell) and Stephano (Thomas Sadoski) get inebriated with Ron Cephas Jones, a rather interesting Caliban. Christian Camargo's Ariel clad in a suit with no shirt nor shoes is a strange servant figure in this difficult to capture role. However at two hours 15 minutes with no interval this production is so slow moving as to seen interminable. Some of the unplanned humour came from a member of the audience whose snores could be heard clearly at quieter moments. I did however like the fine singing from Michelle Beck as Iris and Jenni Barber as Ceres with Ashlie Atkinson's statuesque Juno.

To read reviews of these productions in New York and to access a full list of cast and credits, use the links, Review of The Tempest at BAM and Review of As You Like It at BAM

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The Bridge Project 2010 - As You Like It and The Tempest
Cast and credits as for New York
Box Office: 0844 871 7609
Booking at the Old Vic to 21st August 2010
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 25th and 26th June performances at the Old Vic, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8NB (Rail/Tube: Waterloo)

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