21.9.09

As You Like It

I went to see the Globe production last week, which was brilliant. It did everything As You Like It has to do: make you laugh and make you fall in love with Rosalind. That's the key. It's what the famous epilogue is there to tell you.

Because Shakespeare fills the rest of the play with interesting dualities:
1) Arden sounds like a Robin Hood holiday where the unnatural relationships cultivated in modern society (between the two dukes, Orlando and Oliver) are corrected, almost by magic. But at the same time, the play recognizes that Arden is a hard, desert place away from the comforts of civilization. What to choose?

2) Jaques delivers a pompous speech about the timeless vulgarity of man, only for Adam, ambassador of the Golden World, to turn up and refute his argument. You get cynicism (things never change) mixed in with hope (yes they do). Which one wins?

3) In testing Orlando, Rosalind (oh the irony!) abuses the faults of women, and denounces love. She is aware of how ridiculous Orlando is, and at the same time she's loving it, knowing that she is being just as silly.

Rosalind solves these clashes of idealism and realism through sheer force of personality. She accepts them both, and offers that you like as much of either as please you. Meanwhile, she just wants everyone to have fun. The piercing/idiotic moralizing that Jaques offers is banished from the forest. Touchstone, who can be just as piercing, but prefers to enjoy himself, stays. As You Like It's holiday spirit doesn't ignore reality. But it resolves to embrace hope, love and merriment regardless.

No comments:

Post a Comment