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As You Like It

Directed by Damien Ryan

Written by William Shakespeare

“Love is merely a madness”

To distill As You Like It’s focus in its purest form is inevitably to talk of love. Love’s delightfully irrational force interrupts this play’s central thrust before it even has a valid reason to do so, when our depressed heroine Rosalind, simply looking for “sport” to make her merry, asks Celia, “what think you of falling in love?” She has no object of love yet and seemingly no likelihood of attaining one, but love in this play will find a way no matter what the disguise, barrier or probability.

And so a violent plot about bitter brotherly disputes is hijacked from that moment by such a tangle of love affairs and infatuations that only a god can clean up its exquisite mess, offering in the process, irrefutable and highly optimistic proof that love is a very real, and deeply good, thing.

But Shakespeare’s vision of love is not generalized. This joyous comedy, at its heart, targets the many different forms of love that define our most significant human relationships and he explores love both as a positive, curative force, and a disease from which we suffer. Each character’s story offers a unique prism through which to view ‘love’ -- its vagaries, its agonies and waywardness, its transcendent joys, its “sighs and tears”, its “passion and purity”, its loyalty, its libidinal urges, its spontaneity, its risk and rewards, and above all, its optimism.

But how can anyone say anything ‘new’ about love? Shakespeare’s solution is to mock what has been said before, and his characters do this mercilessly in As You Like It. The play may end with ‘perfect’ love, but it is parodied and ridiculed on its way there. For Jaques, a love song is inevitably a “woeful ballad made to his mistress eyebrow”. Orlando’s heartfelt rhymes are dismissed as “tedious homilies of love” and even turned into dirty jokes by a fool, and his protestations of his willingness to “die” for love are met with Rosalind’s frank and realistic response that “men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love”. That and many other conventional balloons of love are viciously burst in this play.

So we approached the play, primarily through its astonishing heroine Rosalind, as the story of an education – she strives to teach us of a love that goes beyond pretence, convention and superficiality. She does not disparage love or passion – why would she, she is ‘in’ it herself – but she wants Orlando, Phoebe, Silvius and anyone else willing to listen, to recognise our idealised, mythologised visions of love as unrealistic and misleading. For her, heroes like Leander did not die for love but “being taken with a cramp...drown’d”. It is the false artifice of love she wants to cure in us, replacing it with the reality of what it will be like to live with and love a real woman, who will have, “for every passion something, and for no passion, truly anything”. But it is not an intellectual game she is playing as Ganymede. Driving her education of Orlando is the simple, heartfelt need of a girl to test whether the boy who claims he loves her, really does.

Shakespeare does not attempt to sever sex from love in this play either. Rosalind’s desire for Orlando is as physical as it is emotional, “come, woo me, woo me, for now I am in a holiday humour and like enough to consent.” Her boyish disguise is liberating her spirit and her sexuality in a spectrum that crosses between hetero and homoeroticism quite freely.

In the end, the play seems to ask us to believe in the profound truth of love, as a delight, a surprise, a choice and a responsibility. It gives us romantic ‘true’ love, poetic conventional love, unrequited love, exploitative lust, homoerotic impulses, ‘sisterly’ love, the painful journey to brotherly love, and not least, the unconditional love of an old man for his young master. In the process it gives us a series of roles that actor’s love to play and this, along with Drew and Naomi’s exquisite original music score and Anna’s playfully beautiful costumes, has been the greatest joy for us in the rehearsal room

Director's Note

(No director's note available for this production)

Production Trailer

Production Reviews

Production Gallery

Photography by Seiya Taguchi


The Court 

  • Bernadette Ryan | Duchess of the Court

  • Nick Willis | Oliver de Bois

  • Eric Beecroft | Jacques de Bois 

  • Christopher Stalley | Orlando de Bois

  • Barry French | Adam

  • Lizzie Schebesta | Rosalind 

  • Eloise Winestock | Celia 

  • Troy Carlson | Touchstone

  • Christopher Tomkinson | Charles the Wrestler 

  • Naomi Livingston | Charles' Wife

  • Allin Vartan-Boghossian | Sisters Le Beau

  • Gretel Maltabarow | Sisters Le Beau

  • Court Ensemble | All Cast 

Exiled Forest Court

  • Christopher Tomkinson | Duke of the Forest

  • James Lugton | Jaques 

  • Naomi Livingston | Amiens 

  • Drew Livingston | Amiens

  • Eric Beecroft | Forester

  • Takaya Honda | Forester

  • Gretel Maltabarow | Forester

  • Allin Vartan-Boghossian | Forester

  • Alison Carlson | Forester

  • Bernadette Ryan | Forester

  • Abigail Austin | Forester

  • Nick Willis | Forester

  • Mary Rapp | Forest Musician

  • Pip Dracakis | Forest Musician

  • Jessica Clay | Forest Musician

  • Sally Andrews | Forest Musician

  • Drew Livingston | Forest Musician

  • Naomi Livingston | Forest Musician

Forest of Arden Locals

  • Terry Karabelas | Corin

  • Alison Carlson | Audrey

  • Yalin Ozucelik | Silvius

  • Abigail Austin | Phoebe 

  • Barry French | Sir Oliver Martext

  • Damien Ryan | Director

  • Anna Gardiner | Costumer Design 

  • Drew Livingston | Original Score and Music Direction

  • Naomi Livingston | Original Score and Music Direction

  • Liam Fraser | Lighting Design 

  • Kyle Rowling | Wrestle Choreography

  • Lizzie Schebesta | Dance Choreography 

  • Naomi Livingston | Dance Choreography 

  • Eloise Winestock | Dance Choreography

  • Terry Karabelas | Art and Design Manager 

  • Seiya Taguchi | Program and Art Design 

  • Tegan Hendel | Program and Art Design

  • Barry French | Scenic Construction

  • David Stalley | Film and Visual Identity Promo 

  • John Karabelas | Film and Visual Identity Promo 

  • Takaya Honda | Film and Visual Identity Promo 

  • Oliver Burton | Festivals Coordinator 

  • Sarah Ryan | Stage Manager

(Sydney Hills Shakespeare in the Park and The Leura Shakespeare Festival)

  • Kelly Ukena | Stage and Production Manager 

(Shakespeare in the Gardens)

  • Sarah Ryan | Assistant Stage Manager 

(Shakespeare in the Garden) 

  • Oliver Wells | Festival Crew

  • Patrick Morrow | Festival Crew

  • James Winestock | Festival Crew

  • Amie McNee | Festival Crew

  • Cassandra Jones | Festival Crew 

  • Katy Willis | Festival Crew

  • Caroline Langley | Festival Crew

  • Charlie Jones | Festival Crew

  • Robbie McNeil | Festival Crew

  • Oliver Burton | Festival Coordinator

  • Gai Strouthos | Finance Director 

  • Gordon Stalley | Producer 

  • Christopher Tomkinson | Production Management

  • James Lugton | Production Management

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