As You Like It is the perfect play for an al fresco performance and Illyria Theatre’s take on the play was fast, furious and funny.

When taken at such breakneck speed, some of the subtleties of the play are lost and the poetry obscured, but the compensations are a production that is always engaging and, despite the speed, remarkably unmuddled. Outdoor acoustics can be unforgiving but every word here was crystal clear.

The five actors worked astonishingly hard, taking on such an array of characters.

Director Oliver Gray managed the seemingly impossible task of handling the final scene (where 11 named characters appear) with his five players.

Amid the rapid-fire changes, Theresa Brockway’s passionate Rosalind stood out but a hat-tip to William Finkenrath for playing no fewer than seven characters. His Jacques was remarkably un-melancholic and more like Frankie Howerd, but his varied characterisations kept the play steaming along, while Holly Kavanagh neatly contrasted the haughty Phebe and meeker Celia.

Highlights were some frantic pantomime between Kevin James’ Touchstone and James Dangerfield’s Audrey (who also was a decent Orlando), some imaginative sheep and a soulful finale. This was a delight. The setting and weather were ideal, perfectly complemented by a bold and imaginative production.