As You Like It, is one of Shakespeare’s famous pastoral comedies of love and disguise, and it was captured by Digital Theatre live at Royal Shakespear Company’s temporary space, the Courtyard Theatre, in Stratford pon Avon. You can enjoy and watch it online by Digital Theatre +
Written By Bingchen Li
The main story of As You Like It is that Sir Rowland de Bois had 3 sons and he wanted his elder son to take care of his young brothers after his death. But his elder son Olive did not follow his father’s will, instead, he treated his brothers rudely and restricted his brother Orlando’s education and freedom. Olive arranged a wresting battle between Orlando and the royal wrestler Charles to let Olive leave him without taking any heritage. Duke Frederick has usurped the duchy and exiled his older brother, Duke Senior. Because Duke Senior’s daughter Rosalind had a good relationship with Celia, Duke Frederick’s daughter, she could still live in the court. During the battel, Rosalind fell in love with Orlando and try to skip from the court. After lots of suffering, at the end of the show, they all find their love.
Well, to be honest, the dialogue is Greek to me! I even try to look up some words in the dictionary, but I give up. You know, it is Shakespeare. However, the glamour of the show is that you don’t have to know all the words to understand this show. You can enjoy this show with the help of background music, actors’ actions, and facial expressions. Also, one of the benefits of online performance is the subtitle. It is really helpful to audiences especially for those who do not familiar with Shakespeare’s works. In addition, audiences could watch actors’ facial expressions clearly because of the usage of close-up, which is hard to achieve during a live show.
In Act 1, when the new Duke and his courtiers came out, they formed in a square as the background music play. It is an unforgotten scene for the audience: they all in black, no facial expression, hold a sword. Also, actors did stepping when they moved, just like Drumfolk. This is what we called contemporary adaption — the director should combine current performing factor with traditional performance. Moreover, as for the contemporary factors, guitar playing is also another novelty. Between the different acts, an actor will come out and has a guitar solo. Compare to traditional instruments, the guitar is more youthful and the performer could have more interaction with audiences.
Audiences could witness lots of contemporary comedy elements in this show, and that is different from traditional dramas. For example, when Touchstone, a court fool, met Corin, an old shepherd, Corin was skinning a rabbit. What humors is that after Touchstone saw the bloody rabbit, he took a plate with “no animals were harmed during” on it.
All in all, As You Like It is a great show for you to watch and it is also a good performance for you to know more about Shakespeare. Enjoy it and be safe during this special period.