IT’S Shakespeare but possibly not as you’d expect it to be!

Northern Broadsides is coming to The Lowry next week with its first full production after almost two years of lockdown which artistic director Laurie Sansom promises will be “a little bit bonkers”.

As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s most accessible comedies and with the acclaimed theatre company’s signature twists it promises to be a show to be enjoyed by Bard lovers and those who claim not to ‘get’ Shakespeare alike.

“We have chosen a play that is really joyful and restorative as it feels like we all need a bit of that in our lives right now,” said Laurie. “It’s something that celebrates love and is also a bit bonkers. It has that anarchic spirit to it.”


STIMULATING: As You Like It (Pictures: Andrew Billington)

STIMULATING: As You Like It (Pictures: Andrew Billington)


As You Like It is set in a world where rule of law in the court of an all-powerful Duke Ferdinand is everything. Until the high-spirited Rosalind and devoted cousin Celia rebel and head into the forest where they discover that everything is possible.

“Broadsides has a reputation for doing accessible clear, audience-friendly productions in the northern accent,” said Laurie. “A lot of people report that the first time they saw Broadsides was the first time they felt that Shakespeare actually belonged to them which is what we aim to do here.

“There is so much brilliant story-telling and amazing language and fantastic characters but it doesn’t have to be a barrier. If you don’t speak it in a cut glass English accent and if you are not too over reverential to it then it springs to life and gives everyone an exciting night at the theatre.”

Throughout the rehearsal process, the cast of 12 very different, very diverse actors were heavily involved in shaping their characters - even down to the kinds of costumes they wear.


Northern Broadsides production of As You Like It (Picture: Andrew Billington)

Northern Broadsides production of As You Like It (Picture: Andrew Billington)


“When have company of such diversely talented people you need to encourage everybody to be creative to make something really special happen,” said Laurie. “Sure that process can be chaotic, it can be joyful and it can also be challenging at times but but particularly now we’re out of lockdown it’s been such a pleasure just to be in the room together again and make something memorable.

“That personal contact is what we have all really missed.”

As You Like It promises to be a full sensory experience with elaborate and - at times - wild costume changes; live music and a sense of anarchy and freedom pervading throughout.

“I think this production speaks to young people really well,” said Laurie. “It is a play about young people They are falling in and out of love with each other; finding their way in life they find themselves in middle of a forest and decide that anything goes. They realise that they can be who they want – that ‘s the joy of it.”

Like all of Shakespeare’s work, in spite of being over 400 years old, it remains remarkable relevant today.


Northern Broadsides production of As You Like It (Picture: Andrew Billington)

Northern Broadsides production of As You Like It (Picture: Andrew Billington)


“It’s true,” said Laurie. “It might be a bit of a cliche but it feels so fresh. It’s a play about world which runs by very strict principles which breaks down and people have to find a new way of living and new rules for themselves. There’s an element too of how we need to live in harmony with nature, all of which is something we can relate to today.

“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.”

For anyone who might still be put off by the idea that “it’s Shakespeare” Laurie simply suggests “come along an give it a try”.

“It’s amazing how quickly you tune in and understand the world the play is set in and the characters,” he said. “Our production won’t scare or intimidate you. We’re also staging it in the round which we are very excited about. Our aim is to essentially tell bold accessible stories in as accessible and fun way as possible for people to enjoy.”

As You Like It, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Tuesday, March 8 to Saturday, March 12. Details from