REVIEW: As You Like It - The Oaksmere

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Boy actor dresses as girl, who dresses as boy, who changes back to girl.

Gender was always fluid on stage. Add exile, golden age and the idle elite doing a lot of talking and you have English theatre.

An opening physical spat between the de Boys boys sets the energetic tone of Paul Baker’s production.

Joe Edwards has an easy, virile, ruggerish presence as Orlando. The girls are full of oomph.

Sally Wilkinson’s Celia is whoopingly feminine. Cathy Gill’s Rosalind is a verbal and physical firework display of disguised passion.

Peter Long’s Touchstone is full of comic invention, while Simon Evans’ Jacques plays out the Seven Ages in imaginative detail.

Barry Givens, with the presence of a laden waggon, casts his benign spell on the parts of Shepherd and Priest.

There is also a very assured comic performance by young Emma Jaggs as Phoebe the shepherdess.

The production will soon be seen in France where it will no doubt give equal delight.

BASIL ABBOTT