Damien Ryan’s Shakespeare-focused independent company Sport for Jove introduced itself to metropolitan Sydney audiences with As You Like It back in 2009.

Capitalising on the atmosphere of the Royal Botanic Gardens, and the skills of performers whose pleasure in playing Shakespeare al fresco was evident and infectious, that production set the template for much of what Sport for Jove has achieved since.

Sport for Jove's As You Like It

Sport for Jove’s As You Like It. Photo © Kate Williams.

Perhaps it’s fitting that, after a lengthy COVID hiatus, the company has chosen to dust itself off by revisiting this knotty pastoral comedy, this time at the heritage-listed Bella Vista Farm in Sydney’s suburban northwest.

It’s an all-new cast, as you might expect after all these years, but the production retains many of the earlier show’s features – most obviously, its promenade element.

The play’s Act I court scenes are played in the homestead yard, more or less end-on to an audience arranged on blankets, plastic chairs and bleachers at the back. As in the 2009 show, Shakespeare’s usurping Duke is a Duchess (a viperish Sarah Jane Kelly in a blood-red wig).

The “painted pomp”...