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As You Like It February 28, 2012 12:00 AM

Here is Arizona; March is the most amazing month of the year. It is when the citrus blossoms come out and the air smells heavenly for about 3 weeks, not to mention that the weather is absolutely perfect. The temperature ranges between 70-80 degrees for the month. You are probably asking “what does this have to do with Shakespeare?” Well, yesterday I smelled my first citrus blossoms so it has put me in a “pastoral” type of mood and that is why I have picked for our “Play of the Month” for March to be “As You Like It”. 

This is a wonderful romantic comedy, but it also has family conflict, treachery, murder, and adventure. It is called a pastoral play because most of it takes place out in the Forest of Arden (some scholars believe this is a tribute to Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden,).  This play is also one of those plays where Shakespeare “magically” makes everything work out at the last minute so “they all live happily ever after”, which does garner some criticism from the realists in the world. 

It opens with Orlando complaining to his old servant Adam that he has been misused by his brother Oliver and a fight begins between the brothers. This is the first fight, in a string of fights, treason, and betrayals that eventually sends everyone, in varying groups, out into the Forest of Arden. However, before Orlando and Adam escape, there is a brief encounter between Orlando and Rosalind, (before she is banished from the palace), and, of course, they fall instantly in love. So when they both find themselves lost, out in the forest, they are heart sick for each other. 

Rosalind, who is now, for her protection, disguised as a young man by the name of Ganymede, happens to come upon Orlando, who has posted love poems to Rosalind all over the forest on the trees. Seeing her chance to find out if he is really in love with her, pretends to be his tutor to help him be cured of his love since he, Orlando, sees no chance in his love ever being requited due to his banishment. Thus the fun ensues. 

There are many story lines in this play. Besides Orlando and Rosalind’s, you have Rosalind and Celia, Duke Senior, and Duke Frederick, Silvius and Phebe, Touchstone and Audrey, and Duke Senior and his men, particularly, Jaques (not to be confused with Jaques de Boys another brother to Orlando and Oliver). 

For someone like me who has to have a happy ending, the first time you see this play, you will wonder how it will ever happen but, as usual, you need to suspend reason, and it does all end happily ever after for everyone involved! 

If you want to see this play and it isn’t showing at a Shakespeare Festival of Theater near you, the best movie version is the Kenneth Branagh version released in 2006 staring the amazing Bryce Dallas Howard as Rosalind, and David Oyelowo as Orlando. Just a bit of trivia about these two, they were both in the recent wonderful movie “The Help”. 
Anyway, check out the movie or better yet, find where this play is being performed and GO SEE IT! It is such a fun one. A great one to introduce yourself or someone else to Shakespeare! 

 


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