As You Like It

Shakespeare As You Like It play. Directed 2009 by Thea Sharrock at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London. Stars Brendan Hughes (Duke Frederick), Naomi Frederick (Rosalind/Ganymede), Laura Rogers (Celia/Aliena), Dominic Rowan (Touchstone), Gregory Gudgeon (Le Beau), Sean Kearns (Charles), Philip Bird (Duke Senior), Tim McMullan (Jaques), Peter Gale (Amiens), Jamie Parker (Oliver), Jack Laskey (Orlando), Trevor Martin (Aham), Michael Benz (Silvius), Jade Williams (Phebe), Sophie Duval (Audrey), and Ewart James Walters (Hymen) plus musicians Rob Millett, Ben Grove, Tracy Holloway, David Powell and Dai Pritchard. Designs by Dick Bird; music composed by Stephen Warbeck; choreography by Fin Walker; fights directed by Kevin McCurdy; musical direction by Rob Millet; film direction by Kriss Russman and produced by James Whitbourn. Released 2010, this disc has 5.1 dts Master Audio Grade: A+

The acting, directing, and design of this production are all overwhelmingly impressive and delightful. The video and sound (there's stage music) are both great. At the time this came out, it could have been the best video of a play ever made. Anyone who devotes time studying As You Like It will find seeing this production reward enough for making his investment in learning the play. And this HDVD should be a part of any course on Shakespeare taught in English at the  college level.

The only possible reservation about this title is that it has subtitles only in English. It would probably be futile to try to translate the fire-hose flow of characters and poetry in this work into other languages. But would it be technically and economically feasible to provide helpful adaptations or comments in other languages that would allow non-English speakers to enjoy the play? I guess Opus Arte thinks not, but I would urge them to reconsider this point as they bring out more Globe plays.

This title deserves the grade of "A+." It clears all the hurdles of excellence, and it will have broad appeal among English speakers. Even the L'OperaDou jury, which includes native French speakers, gave this title a "B+."

Now for some screenshots. A Shakespeare comedy maybe has more material per minute to comprehend than any other art form. So we will not in our selection of screenshots try to educate you much about the multitude of plots and odd characters in play (leading to a change of government and a mass wedding of 8 protagonists). Rather, we will show you what the modern replica of Shakespeare's theater looks like and how the actors at the Globe approached their audience. And we could not resist a few shots of scenes with famous lines that even today are coins of the English language.

Exterior of the Globe:

The stage is fairly large; but the capacity is only about 1800, including those standing in the pit. The original Globe could seat about 3000:

Orlando (Jack Laskey) is the ward of his older brother, who, Orlando claims, has neglected his fiduciary duty by not giving Orlando a good education:

Olando fights with his negligent brother. Those at the front of the pit get a real close-up view! The modern globe style includes putting actors amidst the spectators quite a lot. My impression is that this was not the practice in Shakespeare's day:

Here we have Celia (Laura Rogers), daughter of the nasty Duke, and Roselind (Naomi Frederick), daughter of the nice Duke. The Dukes are brothers, so the girls are cousins, but they are closer than sisters:

This is Charles the wrestler (Sean Kerns). I always thought this line of his was famous, but it's not listed in the keepcase booklet as a such:

 Orlando gives Charles a most unsportsmanlike blow to the groin:

The low blow delights the girls:

Nasty Duke Ferdinand orders his niece Rosalind to leave the court. Celia decides to run away with Rosalind:

But it's not a good idea for two teen-age girls to pass through the woods alone. The solution is for Rosalind to cross-dress as a man, who will be called Ganymede:

Here in the Arden Forest is Senior, the nice Duke, and his mellow men:

One of the mellow men is Jaques (Tim McMullan), a lugubrious philosopher:

And there's music for the interval (intermission):

Shakespeare throws in other peculiar characters like plain-spoken Audrey (Sophie Duval):

And here's Phebe, a shepherdess (Jade Williams). Phebe falls madly in love with Ganymede, which is unfortunate since Ganymede is really Rosalind in disguise. Rosalind tries gently to discourage Phebe with another one of my favorite lines:

Ganymede to Jacques with my absolute favourite line from AYLI. I always quote this to my wife when she decides where our next vacation will be:

Now it's time for everything to work out right. Shakespeare takes us through the grand conclusion twice to give us time for everything to sink in:

Now Hymen, god of marriage (Ewart James Walters) explains it all again for the third time:

The evening ends with a raucus dance, which looks more contemporary than Elizabethan:

Sorry, all the YouTube clips for this are horrible DVD.