William Shakespeare’s As You Like It is a romantic play that started the trope of a woman disguised as a man. His playful play explored the dynamics between multiple couples through friendship, compromise, and love. Performed at the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre in Stratford upon Avon but watched online by yours truly, this play was a joy to watch and you can experience it too on Digital Theatre Plus.
Written by Grace Chen
Although these performances are recorded online, the feeling of a live play is still present In the show. The camera work makes up for the lack of connection between the performer and audience in an in-person play. The closeups allow the viewers behind the screen to have a better understanding of what the actor is trying to convey. In fact, I liked this aspect of watching a recording the most since there have been many times where I’ve sat far away from the stage and have had trouble seeing what the actor’s facial expressions are.
The biggest hurdle for a Shakespearian play in modern society, in my opinion, is the language. Simply reading Shakespeare’s plays is difficult but his words are decipherable since I can reread a passage. However with a performance, I found it difficult to follow what the performers were saying in each bit of dialogue. Yet, I was amazed that I was still able to understand what was happening. The superb acting helped the most in my understanding since their facial expressions and actions showed me what the relationships between characters.
For example, at the beginning of the play, brothers Orlando and Oliver have a dispute. At first, I was focusing too much on the language and was trying to figure out why they were yelling at each other. After a while of listening, I gave up trying to decipher what they were saying and instead focused on how they were saying it and their body language. It was easy to tell that they were having a dispute that involved their father but it became clear that Orlando was unsatisfied with his education and engages in a brawl with Oliver. By paying less attention to the words the actors were saying and more on the performance, I was able to gather Orlando’s frustrations and his goal for the next scene: to beat the wrestler, Charles.
Although this play was too cheesy for me, the performance given by the actors made the entire play enjoyable. Again, you can watch it or any other Shakespeare production on Digital Theatre Plus. Have fun!