“Under the greenwood tree…:” AS YOU LIKE IT at the Folger

October 31, 2007 at 7:33 pm (Performing arts, Shakespeare)

as-you-like-it-playbill.jpg The Folger Theatre in Washington D.C. has begun its 2007-2008 season with As You Like It. I was privileged to attend this past Sunday’s performance. It was the first time I’ve ever seen this play, and the experience reinforced my belief that in order to fully appreciate Shakespeare’s genius, you must both read and see the plays.

amandaquaid.jpg noel-velez.jpg lover.jpg

This production starred Amanda Quaid as Rosalind and Noel Velez as Orlando. I say “starred,” but to me, it was great acting – and good chemistry – on the part of the entire ensemble that made the production work. The supporting cast was truly excellent. The review in the Washington Post was generally favorable, with a few reservations, not necessarily shared by me. I don’t have the critical skills or knowledge to evaluate theatrical productions; I tend merely to be very grateful to be there and to be both entertained and enlightened, as I was on Sunday. Favorite moments: jon-reynolds.jpg When Amiens (Jon Reynolds) and one of the shepherds sang “Under the greenwood tree.” I had tears in my eyes, not sure why. (“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean…”) sarah-marshall-playbill.jpg Also almost any scene featuring Touchstone. The role was played by actress Sarah Marshall; her comic turns and impeccable timing alone would have been worth the price of admission!

One of the many joys of attending a Shakespeare play is hearing phrases and expressions that you’ve heard all your life. msilvermanh.jpg For instance, Celia (Miriam Silverman) exclaims, “Well said: that was laid on with a trowel.” ( Act I, Scene II) And then there is the pleasure of hearing old friends in context, like the famous “All the world’s a stage” disquisition, delivered with a sort of bemused wonder by Jacques (Joseph Marcell). joseph_marcell203_203x152.jpg

Other favorite quotes:

“O, how full of briers is this working-day world!” (Rosalind, Act I, Scene III)

“Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.” (Rosalind, Act I, Scene III)

“Blow, blow, thou winter wind, / Thou art not so unkind / As man’s ingratitude.” (sung by Amiens, Act II, Scene VII)

“When a man’s verses cannot be understood, nor a man’s good wit seconded with the forward child, understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room.” (Touchstone, Act II, Scene III) I have read that the “reckoning” alluded in that line might be an oblique reference to the murder of Christopher Marlowe. Hearing it, even spoken in jest, I broke out in goose flesh!

“Come woo me, woo me – for now I am in a holiday humour and like enough to consent.” (Rosalind, Act IV, Scene I)

“But O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes.” (Orlando, Act V, Scene II)

“Do you not know I am a woman? When I think, I must speak.” (Rosalind, Act III, Scene II). I hadn’t heard these lines before, but Rosalind/Quaid delivered them with just the right emphasis, causing the audience to burst into laughter!

And my own favorite favorite passage, spoken by Duke Senior in Act II, Scene I, as he celebrates the conditions of his exile in the forest of Arden:

“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, / Finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, / Sermons in stones, / And good in everything.”

To this Amiens adds, simply: “I would not change it.”

Indeed not.

1 Comment

  1. Once again, in thrall to Shakespeare: The Winter’s Tale at the Folger Theatre « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] Tale. The lovers Florizell and Perdita at play in the countryside evoke memories of  characters in As You Like it. A statue come to life recalls the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. At the same time, one also feels […]

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