Reviews: As You Like It

Good if your a fan of the Bard.

I am reviewing the text (I have not seen a production of this play, so nothing here refers to a particular production). This is a pastoral play which focuses on the lives of people who were exiled from court and forced to live in the country. The charters include a duke whose exile follows the usurpation of his title by a pretender forced into exile, a friend who fled with him, his daughter (who was exiled to a great degree because the new duke was unhappy her love life), her lover (exiled for the same reason), and her best friend who resolved to follow her into the country. What follows is a light romantic comedy about people seeking their love mates, followed by their exile ending in a very unrealistic way.

On the whole the characters seem to be country mice. Like the mouse described by Aesop these people are happier in the country than at court. Being free to focus on romance because they are not entangled in the political mess which got them exiled. The means by which they were returned from exile is well known to be very contrived, but it seems not needed. If Shakespeare had left them in the forest, they would be left happy having found true love.

Leaving out, the spontaneous ending and the well known divine intervention towards the end, the story is a very believable love story. Unlike many plays created by Shakespeare it is divided with parts in prose and other parts in pentameter, so the more prosaic characters can speak in their manner and the more poetic characters speak as poets. Then there are intentional love poems in the text written by a character who difficulty limiting a pentameter line to five feet (other characters notice). On the whole, this is an unusual way to explore characters that is very entertaining.

Verdict, good for people who are already Shakespeare fans. People who have so far been unhappy with the Bard's are unlikely to convert, and this would not be recommended as a first book by Shakespeare if you are completely unfamiliar with his work. Good books to start with include Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet or Much Ado About Nothing.