As You Like It Castle Yard, Kilkenny Arts Festival

The Globe Theatre’s first visit to Ireland was a coup for Kilkenny Arts Festival.

Globe performed William Shakespeare’s As You Like It outdoors, in the cobbled Castle Yard at Kilkenny Design. The set was minimal, allowing the troupe of eight great freedom to perform their myriad roles. As all the performers sang and played instruments, it seemed like As You Like It: The Musical, but no-one minded.

As You Like It is one of the more playful of Shakespeare’s dramas, and the actors enjoyed themselves thoroughly. The wrestling match between the hero, Orlando, and Charles was particularly spirited, and the company took the liberty of introducing a camera — an old-fashioned model, but still an anachronism — to the proceedings.

James Dacre’s direction played up the confusions of identity that Shakespeare revelled in as writer. Deirdre Mullins gave a charming performance as Orlando’s admirer, Rosalind, who disguises herself as the boy, Ganymede, when she is banished to the forest of Arden. John O’Mahony, meanwhile, excelled as both the feuding brothers, Duke Senior and Duke Frederick, and the female goatherd, Audrey — complete with a ridiculous wig that highlighted the incongruity of his beard.

Given the summer that’s been in it, one can only admire any company presenting Shakespeare in an outdoor venue. The performance on Saturday evening was visited by a shower and then a great torrent of rain, causing many in the audience to flee for the cover of the courtyard’s arches.

The company carried on regardless, troupers to the last.

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