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CarriageWorks, Bay 20


Disguise, disappearance, wrestling, clowns, a whole lot of goats and a smokin’ jazz trio will transport audiences of all ages through a glitter dusted, cross-dressed comedy of wit, recklessness and romance in Siren Theatre Co.’s production of As You Like It.



Rosalinde: Shauntelle Benjamin

Celia: Jane Phegan

Orlando: Julian Curtis

Jacques: Anthony Wier 

Duke Senor, Frederick, Corin: Nicholas Papademetriou

Wrestler, Silvius: Alice Cooper

Le Beau, Phoebe: Kate Worsley

Touchstone: Nic Meenahan

Adam, Audrey: Alan Flower

Singer: Ali Hughes 


Directed by Kate Gaul

Designed by Kate Gaul + Jacqui Lucey 

Lighting Design: Luix Pampolha

Choreography: Natasha McNamara

Voice Coach: Natasha McNamara

Production Stage Manager: Charlie Coy

ASM/Assistant Director: Liz Arday

Rehearsal Observer: Alli Stapleton 

Publicity: Julia Lenton

Hero photos: Helen Melville

Production Photos: Alex Vaughan

Trailer: Kathy Luu

Graphic Design: Lloyd Harvey 




































































What the critics said:

“One of the most exciting and enjoyable nights of Shakespeare … brilliant performances across the ensemble…. Highly recommended.” - The Daily Telegraph


“Gaul carries with her a gravitas that draws close some of the most respected and remarkable artists of the independent and mainstream theatre. Her work is always handsome. Always finessed. Always clear and confident. …this is a significant production…”  Augusta Supple 


“With the resonant, haunting strains of “Come Hither” flowing in my head, I left Carriageworks in Redfern TWICE satisfied by Shakespeare’s AYLI performed there. The Siren Theatre Co and director Kate Gaul have arranged a whimsical and tongue-in-cheek production of the classic play. The first time I went I was blown away by the vivid colour and the excitement of hearing music interwoven with the text. I came away with an uplifted feeling and loved the way the words of poetry by the master craftsman washed over me. As usual when I go to see Shakespeare I didn’t “get” everything and have never analysed this particular text in school but even so the richness of gesture and comedy mixed and I really did understand the story if not every word’s meaning.


The second time I went I was surprised to be doubly hit by the bright and circus-like atmosphere of the set. Knowing what was coming made my anticipation of the fun all the greater. I soaked up every word and every movement. The subtleties of the text unwound in front of me. I followed closely the story set up, the characters’ individual journeys and the denouement with greedy senses. I appreciated the transition between Court and the fantastical forest with the device of a sheer curtain.  I noted how tightly bound the playfulness of the text was with melancholia and philosophy. I wondered where Shakespeare’s character lay – in the sad Jacque or the wise Fool. I recognised some early age environmentalism in Jacques and Rosalind’s concern for the wildlife and flora of the forest. I relished Rosalind’s rationality and cleverness, her feminism. I dearly loved Celia’s humour and unquestioning loyalty to her friend. All this on my second time around – what would I find if I went back for a third?


Sadly, I cannot return thrice as the short season closes tomorrow night. If you can, I urge you to go and see the work this Saturday 7 at 7:30pm @ Carriageworks.”



"Kate Gaul and her band of merry artists has created a beautiful Forest of Arden. Luiz Pampohla’s  lights – a mellow multi-coloured festoon, arc up to the ceiling… A patchwork of patchwork quilts hang behind a forest of instruments played (and manipulated) by David Manuel and Daryl Wallis (also credited with composition). There’s a warmth, a homeliness to the show. And the cast – a motley crew of familiar and fresh faces – feel like a family of players who shift and change and transform – clowning and singing (music by Daryl Wallis) and dancing (Courtesy of Natalia Ladyko). Most notably about this particular production is the use of clowning – which essentially highlights the fun and folly in love (the pursuit of AND the maintenance of…). It’s an interesting idea – which allows the performers to transform and tumble in and out of character. …..


It is a handsome and well crafted production, with some genuinely beautiful staging, and exquisite use of light. The performances are clear and have moments of casual flippancy and cuteness, and a robust focus. I don’t like to single out performers in Gaul’s production as I believe she often focuses on creating such a cohesive ensemble – but I particularly was magnetized by Jane Phegan’s Celia – direct and devoted in her love of Rosalind….


What Kate Gaul does is remarkable. And no one else has the stamina, skill, focus and to pull off a production of this scale and this complexity on the resources she has. Though there are aspects of the production which I found counter the tone (for example the dark torch-style songs seemed more in keeping with the tone of Jacques than the uplifting, bubbly love of Orlando), this is a significant production, which I’m sure will find a joyful younger/newer audience thinking more about the value of the diverse four couplings as the curtain is drawn."   AUGUSTA SUPPLE - more-2319 


"It is hard to expect something innovative out of modern adaptations of Shakespeare.  But it is simplicity that lets truly great acting and production shine in Kate Gaul's adaptation of As You Like It.  This Siren Theatre Co play refreshingly exploited one of the great aspects of the theatre: the ability to  turn an empty space into a magical place.  Though seemingly only a curtain and a set of chairs at the start, the play soon unravels a dynamic forest of love and exile, where trees are an unnecessary prop when you have lights, hilarious costumes, a live band and singer and a cast that can as soon turn into goats.  


In As You Like It, moustaches transform females into males, flowers bloom from hands, catchy songs and group choreography momentarily turn the play into a musical ... 'tis tru, this group has managed to make the audience feel like "all the world's a stage."  Instead of trying to  confine dialogue to the boundaries of epochs and contexts, this hilarious play clearly demonstrates the timelessness of spectacle and romance"   HENAR PERALES, City News 


“…..congratulations you on the AMAZING show last night. It was inspiring and so fun to watch. I loved the direction, and the way the play came to life with all the great musical moments and brilliant characterisation! The blurring of gender lines worked so well in the piece and brought a whole new dimension and reading to the play itself. Amazing work ….. I appreciate it so so much.” Julius Toomey


“I woke up thinking about the beautiful world you created and what a joy it was to be immersed in…. theatre is one of the last art forms we have where magic can happen before your eyes and this production is so infused with magic that I feel a reboot in my soul ……. theatre as medicine”   Clark  Richards


"With a great live band ranging through wide styles … and a super fun cast, the play really came together and was funny and really entertaining. If felt like a high calibre production….. Who would’ve thought Fellini-esque clowns would be a winner? …. It’s a great evening out and well worth your time and pennies. Recommended highly…” Across Weirdish Wild Space Blog


"Congratulations on last night's performance … I'm a huge fan of As You Like It as it is, and last night was hilariously funny and visually stunning to watch….” Jessica-Belle Keogh


Shakespeare'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 production — 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. CONCRETE PLAYGROUND



“… there are plenty of fresh ideas in director Kate Gaul’s version, and more than enough to make for a thoroughly enjoyable experience…. One of its outstanding features is Daryl Wallis’ musical composition: playful; comical; delicate; melodic; filmic…. sensitive and refined playing, (CarriageWorks is)  a demanding space, in which both elocution and sheer force of breath are of the utmost importance. In this respect, as in others, Shauntelle Benjamin, as Rosalind, and Jane Phegan, as Celia, are virtually flawless.


Julian Curtis puts a contemporary spin on his lines as Orlando, bringing the role into the 21st century, through his deployment of a physical and inflective vocabulary which very effectively straddles our and Elizabethan time…. There were plenty of other treats on stage, including Nick Meenahan’s sentimental bloke-style Touchstone, a circus-tent, larger-than-life caricature of the broadest Australian proportions, landing somewhere between Les Patterson and Jack Lang. As his belle, Audrey, the stocky-limbed, hirsute Alan Flower cut a hefty, but fine, not to mention hilarious, figure.


And Anthony Weir’s delivery of the most famous speech from this play, in his guise as the melancholy Jacques, was perhaps the most artfully casual and compelling rendition I’ve ever heard.…roll into Carriageworks for the time of your life. Siren’s As You Like It buys, quite beautifully, into the fantastical and parodical spirit that coursed through Shakespeare’s veins, of humour. Yes, on the whole, I will speak goldenly of its profit. Lose yourself in the forest of Arden for a couple of hours.”  Lloyd Bradford Skye CRIKEY.COM


“On Friday 6th May I attended a performance of 'As You like It' with 46 students, and I couldn't let the opportunity pass to let you know that the performance was outstanding. The students and I have not stopped raving about the show, and would greatly appreciate it if you could pass on our thanks to the performers, behind the scenes crew and the venue staff.


I have attended many live theatre performances over the years, and have never enjoyed a performance as much as I did of 'As You Like It'. Again, many thanks and please consider staging it again next year for our next English Advanced class in 2012."    Julia Cremin 



Photographer: Alex Vaughan

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