Friday, March 07, 2008

As You Like It : Do You Like It?

As mentioned previously, the show on Boston Common this year will be As You Like It.  Truthfully, I know little to nothing about the play.  I've never studied it, and only ever really read it during a project I did to read all the plays.  It did not stick in my memory much.

So, I'll open it up.  Somebody tell me what it's about, and if it's any good?  Where does it rank, relatively, among the comedies?  Better/worse than Two Gents, Comedy of Errors, All's Well?

The wikipedia page reminds me that this play is the source of one of the more famous Shakespearean quotes, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players..." and includes it with Much Ado and Twelfth Night among the "great comedies."

Who wants to enlighten us?

7 comments:

ren girl said...

Personally, I ADORE As You. It was one of the first Shakespeare plays I knew (I actually had nearly the entire play memorized in 8th grade, I was that obsessed). It's heroine, Rosalind, is one of Shakespeare's best, in my opinion--she's smart & witty & horribly in love but also going to get her own way. Plus there is cross-dressing (can't go wrong), lots of silly country characters, & some truly hilarious lines.
Rosalind's often compared to Viola in her complexity of character & as a Strong Woman type thing. Definetely go see it if you get a chance! Tell us all how the production was. :)

foreignthinks said...

It was one of the first plays I read and so I see it as an "old favourite." I haven't read it in a couple of years, but I still am very fond of the play and think it is some very good Shakespeare not to be overlooked.

~Angela~ said...

I think AYLI was one of the first Shakespeare plays I ever actually saw (I'd read several by that point... but they really are meant to be seen, not read). It's delightful. Really, I'm all for any play that involves a pants-role for a female.

Gedaly said...

I was in a great production of As You Like it a couple years ago, I think it's a wonderful play.

There a several beautiful passages of verse in this play full of wit and wisdom. There are lots of famous lines in this play... the language is great. There is some great comedy in this play too! Not every production plays it up but the text really lends itself to strong comedy. Touchstone is one of my favorite clown characters and his banter with Jaques is extremely clever and witty.

The romance in the show is also very cute and sweet. It's a feel-good kind of show. I would recommend finding a copy of Kenneth Branagh's recent film version of As You Like It. A lot of text is cut and some rearranged, but the story is super easy to follow and enjoy in this version.

-G
BardBlog.com

Anonymous said...

I have always loved "As You Like It." Always.

An upcoming production: Richmond, VA. 5 actors, 1 musician. No net. They play in a chapel in the city's downtown, and will reprise at their summer festival at Agecroft Hall. The latter once stood in Lancashire during W.S.'s lifetime. They do good stuff. www.richmondshakespeare.com

Alan K.Farrar said...

Been involved in several productions - and a lot will depend on how 'light a hand' the director and designers treat it with.
The original plays a lot on gender politics - remember all the cross dressing which gives a wonderful spice to some of the scenes.
There is a very strong 'theatrical' metaphor running through the play too.
Don't miss the minor characters (Shakespeare is reputed to have played the old shepherd).

Craig said...

It's my favorite comedy--pure magic from start to finish. AYLI is about the need to gather your courage and make a leap into the unknown. Be brave and try to be good, it says, and the world will have a way of looking out for you. That's a very different vision of the natural and supernatural world than is found in Macbeth (malevolent), Midsummer (mischevious but generally benevolent), or the Tempest (awesome but dangerous). It almost seems to me like a fable about going off to college, or Shakespeare's version of Seuss' "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"

Jacques give the play just enough acidity to keep it from being cloying, Touchstone gives it just enough roguishness to keep it from being naive, and Rosalind...well, I am in love with Rosalind, and I don't know who couldn't be. She's perfection, and the thing that makes her perfect is that she's just having so much _fun_ with her new life. Think about it--she's escaped safely, she finds her exiled father, and her boyfriend shows up...but she _doesn't stop playing dress-up as a shepherd._ She's on her own, taking care of herself, and she loves it. She's actually quite wistful about the prospect of coming back to reality at the end.

Yeah, I love that play. It makes me smile just to think about it.