Throughout Time & Shakespeare in September: As you like it, by William Shakespeare
‘As you like it’ is one of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies- with women pretending to be men, fools, love triangles, singing and an almost miraculous happy ending. My first experience of it was a the 2006 film version which is somewhat randomly set in Japan. I really enjoyed it, but in retrospect in shortening it quite a lot, Rosalind is the one who misses out on a lot of her good lines.
My next memory is of a documentary that was an overview of several aspects of Shakespeare’s plays, and included footage of the Royal Shakespeare Company rehearsing. As they acted out a scene between Celia and Rosalind discussing Rosalind’s crush, every line just made complete sense. The body language, the right pauses and emphasis; everything came together to give the unfamiliar words meaning. That was, for me, a ‘lightbulb moment’- of realising how good Shakespeare really is, and how important it is to see it performed by a good company.
And finally I read the play. As well as the joyous and humour storyline, and great lines, I found myself really enjoying the characters themselves, and the congenial way of relating the gentlemen had. I love how they are open about saying they quite like someone and want to be better friends, rather than an insincere nice to meet you.
Sir, fare you well:
Hereafter, in a better world than this,
I shall desire more love and knowledge of you.
I liked how the two villains, Oliver and Duke Federick, both have some self awareness- that they dislike Orlando (and Rosalind in the Duke’s case) because of their own faults rather than his.
I hope I shall see an end of him; for my soul, yet I know not why, hates nothing more than he. Yet he’s gentle, never schooled and yet learned, full of noble device, of all sorts enchantingly beloved, and indeed so much in the heart of the world, and especially of my own people, who best know him, that I am altogether misprised:
I would thou hadst been son to some man else: The world esteem’d thy father honourable, but I did find him still mine enemy.
Let it suffice thee that I trust thee not.
When we first meet Orlando, and he is railing against his brother’s treatment of him, while probably just, I initially felt he was acting a bit like a self centred teenager. But when it comes to the fight scene, I felt a bit more friendly towards him, although he seemed a bit melodramatic when he stated:
I shall do my friends no wrong, for I have none to lament me, the world no injury, for in it I have nothing; only in the world I fill up a place, which may be better supplied when I have made it empty.
I love Celia’s gentle optimism and steadfast love.
Now go we in content
To liberty and not to banishment.
And Jaques’ consistent moroseness
I do desire that we may be better strangers
Duke senior has a few god speeches. The first quote I like for the idea that a cold wind is not nature being cruel or trying to harm you, she is but embracing you and teaching you about yourself, you humanity…
The seasons’ difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
‘This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.’
Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy:
This wide and universal theatre
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in.
And finally there is Rosalind, the star of the play. She is a fun character, who is not afraid to do things that are rather out there. A couple quotes I noted down were:
I show more mirth than I am mistress of, and would you yet I were merrier?
Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.