Brought to us by a collaboration between the National Theatre (Public Acts initiative), the Queen’s Theatre and eight community organisations from across London, As You Like It is a European premiere of a musical version of the Shakespeare play that has been adapted by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery, with music and lyrics by Taub.

The musical follows the plot of the original play quite closely: Duke Senior (played by Rohan Reckord) is banished from court by his younger brother Frederick (Neo Moepi) and takes refuge in the Forest of Arden where many of his supporters flock to him daily.

Frederick lashes out at those who threaten his authority and exiles his niece – Duke Senior’s daughter – Rosalind (Ebony Jonelle). Fleeing to the Forest of Arden, Rosalind is joined by Frederick’s own daughter, Celia (Marjorie Agwang), Touchstone the clown (Vedi Roy), brave Orlando (Linford Johnson) and his duplicitous brother, Oliver (Kayode Ajayi).

Although the show is very closely inspired by the original Shakespeare play, and uses Shakespearean language, it very much varies in many areas. Characters cause a lot of laughter during the night, especially Touchstone, cleverly played by Vedi Roywho, who climbs through the audience at points during the show.

The relationship between Orlando and Rosalind is the key to the show and reminded me a little of Bridget Jones. Rachel Adesanye, as Rosalind, truly impresses with her vocals. I could listen to her voice all day.

Generally, it is a very entertaining musical. The songs – such as ‘All the World’s a Stage’, ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ and ‘When I’m Your Wife’ – are catchy and well performed. Beth Hinton-Lever (Jacques), Jonelle (Rosalind) and Johnson (Orlando) have fine singing voices, as have the chorus. The costumes are very colourful. Projecting the words on a screen above the stage for the hearing impaired is a welcome touch.

Review written by Andy Wilkin and John Speller

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