Multi-cultural, gender diverse cast brings As You Like It – a flamboyant and joyous ‘play for our time’ – to Leeds Playhouse

20th April 2022

A wonderful cast of 12 northern actors – including non-binary and disabled performers – has been drawn together from the worlds of stage, TV and film for a refreshingly bold staging of As You Like It in the Quarry theatre at Leeds Playhouse.


This exciting Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre co-production challenges us to imagine a new future. Capturing the sheer joy of live performance and the power of love to change the world, this interpretation embraces Shakespeare’s timeless themes of love, gender, identity and power.


Set in the stylish but stifling court of an all-powerful duke, this visually spectacular production sees high-spirited Rosalind and her devoted cousin Celia escaping in disguise into the forest, where they engage in an elaborate game of fluid identity with Orlando, Rosalind’s recent object of affection.


“People adopt new names, new clothes and new lovers,” said Laurie Sansom, Artistic Director of Northern Broadsides. “They experience new feelings and dive into them willy-nilly, they play many parts and make many entrances and exits. It’s as if everyone has stepped through the wardrobe into another world but not without taking a lot of fabulous clothes with them.


“Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, this feels the most restorative, opening up the possibility of making a new world based on open-hearted acceptance of each other and living in harmony with the natural world. This feels like a play for our time, challenging us to imagine a new future that is more playful, accepting and connected.”


EM Williams (My Brilliant Friend, National Theatre; Dream, RSC; Romeo & Juliet, Hull Truck Theatre) plays Rosalind. Isobel Coward (Nicer Than Orange Squash, Leeds Playhouse; Home Girl, Derby Theatre; OutStageUs, Hope Mill Theatre) plays Celia. And Shaban Dar (Brink, Royal Exchange; 50 Years, Waterside Theatre; The Bay, ITV1) plays Orlando.


The rest of the talented cast comprises: Bailey Brook (The Monster, New National Theatre Tokyo; Masters of the Air, Apple TV) as Silvius/Charles; Leeds actor Gemma Dobson (Rita, Sue & Bob Too, Royal Court; A Taste of Honey, national tour; In the Club, BBC1) as Le Beau/Phoebe; Terri Jade Donovan – a passionate advocate for deaf and disabled artists in the industry – as Audrey; actor and hip-hop artist Ali Gadema (King John, RSC; Mughal Mowgli, Pulswerk Films; Coronation Street, ITV1) as Duke Frederick/Duke Senior; TV regular Claire Hackett (All My Sons, Apollo Theatre; Hamlet, Bristol Old Vic; Line of Duty, BBC1; Silent Witness, BBC1; William and Mary, ITV1) as Adam/Corin; award-winning writer and spoken word artist Reuben Johnson (A Streetcar Named Desire, Royal Exchange; Macbeth, national tour; The Teacher, Channel 5; Doctor Who, BBC1) as Oliver; drag artist, storyteller and Queer activist Adam Kashmiry (Ghost Light, National Theatre of Scotland; Adam, Fringe Festival & BBC Arts) as Jacques; international cabaret performer Joe Morrow (The Cat in the Hat, West End; resident MC, Café De Paris, Leicester Square; RIP, Grindstone Theatre) as Touchstone; and East Yorkshire actor, singer and musician Jo Patmore (Frost Hollow Hall, East Riding Theatre; Queen Mab, Flux Theatre; Rogers and Hart and Hammerstein, BBC Radio 3) as Amiens/William.


The creative team comprises: Set and Costume Designer EM Parry, Lighting Designer James Earls-Davis, Composer Robert Bentall, Casting Director Lucy Casson CDG, Movement Director Jamaal Burkmar, Resident Assistant Director Hallam Breen, and Fight Director Bethan Clark.



As You Like It

A Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre co-production

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Laurie Sansom

Designed by EM Parry

Quarry, Leeds Playhouse

18-21 May

Box office: 0113 213 7700