Sunday, August 28, 2005

Royal Shakespeare Company's As You Like It, Wyndham's Theatre, London

I had only seen Sienna Miller in the tabloid gossip columns giving the rather pathetic Jude Law a hard time, so it was a joy to see her in such good form on the stage, which is where she belongs from the evidence of her performance as Celia in this Shakespeare comedy from the RSC.

She sets the stage alight with her performance, which is only matched by her delightful co-star, Helen McCrory, as Rosalind. They both achieve a comic fluidity that illuminates Shakespeare's words and the whole production brings to life the lessons that the playwright can teach a 21st century audience about life and love.

Sean Hughes gives a good comic turn, but his acting is not up to the standard of the other players, although there were plenty of laughs in his slapstick tomfoolery and I retain much affection for him from his early days on Channel 4's 'Sean's Show' and more recently on 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks'.

However, a comic actor, who is by no means out of his depth, is Reece Shearsmith. He is a revelation and delivers the famous 'All the World is a Stage' speech with real power and gravitas. His skills from 'The League of Gentleman' are well-used and he is a joy to watch treading the boards. I feel he has a bright future ahead of him as an actor and maybe will be Hollywood-bound soon. Lets hope he doesn't choose to impregnate Courtney Love like one of his more embarrassing comic contemporaries....

The supporting players are also excellent and the play is well-staged and directed. At more than two hours it is a long-haul and like any Shakespeare play, it is well worth geting a handle on the story beforehand, so you can sit back and admire the clever dialogue and rapid-fire witticisms. There is much to amuse a modern audience and the laughs come thick and fast. The cast have great comic timing and are a joy to watch. A wrestling scene shows a certain athletic prowess too.

All in all a great night out. Let's hope Sienna Miller comes to be known for her acting talent rather than her fashion sense or the men in her life. By this performance it is clear that she is not another Liz Hurley.

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