365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

269. As You Like It – the play overall

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“As You Like It” by William Shakespeare was once summarized to me like this: “Act One: Plot. Acts Two through Four: Running around the forest and talking about love. Act Five: Plot.” It isn’t a far-off analysis of the play. It begins with the dramatic event of Rosalind and Celia, cousins, being banished from the kingdom and going into hiding in the Forest of Arden. Rosalind disguises herself as a boy, pretending to be Celia’s servant, and in doing so manages to stay close to her beloved Orlando without his knowledge of who she really is. She tricks Orlando into “practicing” wooing Rosalind – since he believes Rosalind is a boy named Ganymede – and along the way is involved in a love triangle, meets several colorful characters in the forest, and finds her happily ever after.

Though the brief act summary may give the illusion that not a lot happens, “As You Like It” is such a purely delightful play that even though the characters do prattle on about love for quite some time, it is highly enjoyable to watch them do it. Orlando’s embarrassingly bad poetry alone is worth sticking around through intermission to witness, and of course the “All the world’s a stage” speech is never to be missed.

The play contains many of Shakespeare’s favorite comedic conventions, most notably the cross-dressing woman. Rosalind may be his most likeable disguised female character, and Celia is one of the best Shakespearean sidekicks he ever wrote. Even with the dues ex machine at the end (I won’t totally spoil it for you, but trust me when I say it is far-fetched even for Shakespeare), it is impossible not to grin as three couples are knitted together in matrimony at the same time, just before Rosalind – most unconventionally, I may add – delivers the epilogue.

It is a show to be enjoyed by all ages, whether they are Shakespeare fans or no. There is something for everyone, whether action (there is some wrestling in the beginning and any production worth its salt will include some hilarious stage combat), romance (abound), or simply the stunning use of language that Shakespeare is so famous for. The play is seasoned with several memorable songs, making it the perfect show to go and see on a beautiful summer’s night.

Enjoy the romp through the Forest of Arden that these loveable characters will lead you on – it will leave you smiling for quite some time thereafter!

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Written by Caroline Mincks

June 27, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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