Shakspeare's comedies can be a little confusing. As You Like It disguises its women as men, banishes dukes, romps in the forest and has quite a lot of sheep and their shepherds. Siren Theatre's production of the play starts slowly, but soon finds it's momentum. It accumulates comedy pat by pat, as much as the actors cake on makeup as the play rolls on. The cast start dressed in more sober 1940s gear. Getting deeper into the play, and deeper into the forest, the actors' faces become more dolled and more clown-like. The make up exaggerates and deepens their expressions, and red noses become a feature of the production. Shauntelle Benjamin's Rosalind, in drag, becomes a grinning extra from Deadwood, and Julian Curtis' Orlando gets messy attacks of David Tennant hair.
In the background for most of the play is a trio of musicians. Ali Hughes sings, David Manuel percusses and Daryl Wallis plays piano. Music flows behind this prodcution it's surprisingly well-fit. Unwinding awkwardly at first, but soon making a cool counterpoint to the action on the stage with songs echoing jazz or Kurt Weil. Other moments are deftly spanned by spare percussion. The three musicians barely enter the play, but as it progresses they become the soil on which the other action spreads.
As usual in Shakespeare's comedies, the juiciest roles are the funniest ones. Kate Worsley and Alice Cooper are particularly good as shepherds Phoebe and Silvius. Cooper overflows with a thousand dorky points as the unhappy lover, and Worsley is perfectly broad-voiced, expressive and ungrateful. Anthony Weir has something of the Fisher King's Perry in him, swaying enjoyably from melancholy to wit as the sad-faced Jacques. Nick Meenahan is extra comfortable with his Elizabethan lines, delivering an effortless Touchstone the fool, with a fit and functional ocker accent.