In the Black Swan State Theatre Company’s new production of As You Like It, William Shakespeare’s perennially popular romantic comedy, Perth actor Steve Turner takes the key supporting role of the melancholy Jacques.
In a career that spans over a quarter of a century, Steve Turner has appeared in a variety of productions, including the recent Black Swan staging of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, which starred Sigrid Thornton, When The Rain Stops Falling and Boy Gets Girl. But like so many actors who ply the stage, he’s no stranger to The Bard.
“This is my first production of As You Like It.” he tells us. “I’ve done six other of Shakespeare’s scripts. Some of them I’ve done more than once, like Twelfth Night I’ve done about three times, Much Ado About Nothing I’ve done twice. So yeah, I’m familiar with Shakespeare and the more I do it, the more I love it.”
The pastoral comedy sees a young heroine, Rosalind (Jovana Miletic) banished from the urban court of her father, Duke Frederick (Goeff Kelso), forced to seek refuge in the wilderness home of her uncle, the rightful Duke senior (Kelso again) and trying to win the heart of the dashing Orlando (James Sweeny), who is under the impression she is a he (Shakespeare, hey?). Mistaken identities and misapprehensions rule the day, until all is resolved for an across-the-board happy ending.
“I think it’s easily accessible because of its light-heartedness and its humour,” Turner says. “The characters are quite clearly defined as good or bad, seeking love or despising love – it’s quite clear where everyone is coming from. There’s also only two settings. There’s the city, as in the court, and then there’s the country. In a way, the whole plat puts the city and the country against each other. The city is drawn as being quite dark and mischievous and full of politics and negativity, whereas the country is freer, people are much more pleasant to each other there, they find love and people let down their barriers.”
Turner plays Jacques, one of the rightful Duke’s men, who he describes as “…a bit of an enigma. He’s in the forest with his boss, as it were, The Duke, and they were banished from the Court a number of years ago. He’s quite a melancholy, philosophical sort of guy. I think he’s looking for the answers to the meaning of life in some way. It’s a great character to play because he really is on his own in some way and he interacts with the other characters, but he’s his own man and he does whatever he wants.”
As You Like It runs at the State Theatre Centre from May 17 – June 1. For vsession times and tickets, go to bsstc.com.au