As You Like It (4 stars)

Outdoor production of Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy by Bard in the Botanics

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As You Like It

‘All the world’s a stage’ could be the perfect tag line for a theatre company that, year after year, plies its trade in every corner of Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens and whose actors make their entrances from behind trees and exit across stretches of lawn. And (weather permitting) it’s hard to imagine a more fitting play for this setting than Shakespeare’s lovely pastoral comedy.

With this in mind, Gordon Barr’s production wisely eschews lofty concepts, placing an emphasis on the lyrical beauty of the speeches, the witty interactions between characters and the songs. If the opening scene at the court of Duke Frederick (Stephen Clyde) seems a little hesitant and distant from the audience, the production literally gets into its stride when we move off into the more intimate corners of the gardens and the intrigues get going in the Forest of Arden.

Barr’s ensemble works tightly and generously together, but the acting honours go Nicole Cooper, Jennifer Dick and Beth Marshall as the spirited trio of heroines, Rosalind, Celia and Audrey.

Botanic Gardens, Glasgow, until Sat 28 Jul

As You Like It

An enjoyable woodland comedy completes the Bard in the Botanics programme for 2012, but not one without some good old-fashioned heartache, as Rosalind and Orlando chase each other around the Forest of Arden and learn a few life lessons along the way.

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