But it's also got more dead wood in it than any other Shakespeare play I can think of. For "dead wood" read "Touchstone". This production gets round the problem by reinforcing the once topical and now incomprehensible gags with physical comedy. Richard Katz- who has to perform the miracle- is pretty damn good.
But then everyone is pretty damn good. This is what you expect- but don't always get- from the RSC: acting in depth. Forbes Masson is a commanding- even show-stopping- Jacques, Jonjo O'Neill a winning Orlando, Katy Stephens a rumbustious Rosalind (pity I didn't fancy her more) and Mariah Gale a delightful Celia. The production, by Michael Boyd, the RSC's artistic supremo- and a safe pair of hands- is intelligent and light on its feet- and acknowledges and engages the audience more than I've ever seen happen at the RSC. Certain characters- Jacques and Touchstone especially- address us directly- and get us shouting back. Now that's the spirit!
Phew! After A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Winter's Tale and Julius Caesar I was beginning to think of attendance at Stratford as a painful cultural duty.
We came out of the theatre to find Orlando's "poems" taped to trees and walls and railings all the way down the street.