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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shakespeare Summaries: As You Like It

As you know, I attended The Shakespeare Festival last week. There, I saw six plays, and today, I will recap one of them for you: As You Like It.

This was not my favorite play, but you gotta love it when you see a girl dressing up as a guy in one of William's plays. Why? Because all plays back then were acted by guys. So it was really a guy dressing up as a girl dressing up as a guy. Which is all kinds of confusing, but so funny to me even if the play wasn't, which it was, so don't worry.

Here is the quick summary of As You Like It. I am no scholar; I am merely good at dumbing things down, which is a talent I wish my high school Calculus teacher had.

AS YOU LIKE IT... by Master William Shakespeare

You’ve got this evil Duke Fredrick (booooo) who has stolen his brother’s throne, Duke Senior (yeahhhh). Duke Senior (yeahhh) takes off to the Forest of Ardenne, strangely similar to Robinhood’s Sherwood Forest (cue Bryan Adam’s song), and lives quite happily with his buddies… all things considered.


You’ve got this Sir Rowland who dies, and he instructs his eldest son Oliver to take care of the younger son Orlando. BUT…Dun! Dun! Dun! The evil older brother Oliver (boooooo) does NOT take care of the sweet gentlemanly younger brother Orlando (yeahhhh). Orlando (yeahhhh) is deprived of an education… yet still is somehow wise beyond his years.
Of course he is.

Duke Fredrick (booooo) lets Duke Senior’s (yeahhhh) daughter Rosalind (woo-woo) stay with him because Rosalind (woo-woo) is super tight with his own daughter, Celia (awww).

Meanwhile, Orlando (yeahhh) has a moment of “Wait a seccccc… I don’t deserve this!” and fights with his brother Oliver (booooo) demanding a normal life (can you blame him?). Oliver (booooo) agrees only because he is a wimp at fighting.

Enter WWF wrestler Charles (Body-blow! Body-blow!) who secretly tells Oliver (booooo) that he’s heard rumors (from who? Maybe William himself spread the rumor) that Orlando (yeahhh) wants to enter a wrestling match and fight Charles (Body-blow! Body-blow!). Charles has this “Muhammad Ali Reputation” (can’t lose even if he tries), but he’s afraid that the courts will be pissed at him if he beats a nobleman (aka Orlando – yeahhh). Charles (Body-blow! Body-blow!) comes to Oliver (boooo) to say, “Hey, man, help your little brother out. He’s gonna get demolished if he fights me.” Oliver (booooo) convinces Charles (Body-blow! Body-blow!) that Orlando (yeahhh) is so wicked, he might try to poison Charles (Body-blow! Body-blow!). Charles (Body-blow! Body-blow!) says, “Fine. I’ll teach that boy a lesson.”

Rosalind (woo-woo) and Celia (awwww) are conveniently at the wrestling match. Orlando (yeahhh) surprises all and kicks Charles’s (Body-blow! Body-blow!) butt. And of course, Rosalind (woo-woo) and Orlando (yeahhh) fall madly in love but do not tell each other (shhh).

When Orlando (yeahhh) gets home, his servant Adam (Narc!) tells Orlando (yeahhh) that Oliver (booooo) wants him dead. Orlando (yeahhh), to protect his life, flees to the Forest of Ardenne (cue Bryan Adam’s song). There, he finds Duke Senior (yeahhh), and joins his buddies.

Back to Duke Fredrick (booooo) who in a serious PMS moment, blows up and banishes his niece Rosalind (woo-woo). Where did his outrage come from? NOWHERE! He just freaks out. It helps the story move along quite nicely. Good job, William. Celia (awww), in undying loyalty to her best friend, goes secretly with Rosalind (woo-woo), and the two girls take off into the, you guessed it, Forest of Ardenne (cue Bryan Adam’s song). They also take the court jester Touchstone with them (some crude guy to satisfy the beer drinking athlete boyfriends who get taken to these plays by their chick-flick obsessed girlfriends). To ensure their safety, Rosalind (woo-woo) dresses up as a boy "Ganymede". Celia (awww) takes the disguise of a shepherdess (I have no idea why). But she wants to play dress-up too, so she calls herself "Aliena".

Now we get the side characters who were probably friends of Shakespeare… (oh, you need a job? Times are tough? Here, let me just throw a couple of random characters in the middle of the forest. You’re hired!)

There’s the sniveling sorry excuse for a man Sylvius (boo-hoo) who desperately loves the stuck-up Phoebe (Talk to the hand). The more Sylvius (boo-hoo) pines and whines over and dines Phoebe (Talk to the hand), the more disgusted she is at his girly-ness.

Rosalind/Ganymede (woo-woo) desperately tries to have a man-to-man talk with Sylvius (boo-hoo) and attempts to give Sylvius (boo-hoo) manly tips to show Sylvius (boo-hoo) that no girl wants a sap. Unfortunately, Phoebe’s (Talk to the hand) idea of a manly man is none other than Ganymede (AKA Rosalind). The more Rosalind/Ganymede (woo-woo) tries to resist Phoebe (Talk to the hand), the more Phoebe likes Rosalind/Ganymede. We all love a challenge, don’t we, girls?

Then lovesick Orlando (yeahhh) starts writing poetry to Rosalind (woo-woo) and hanging the poetry from trees. Rosalind (woo-woo) finds the poetry, and of course, finds Orlando (yeahhh). Dressed as a man, Rosalind/Ganymede (woo-woo) agrees to tutor Orlando (yeahhh) since he has had no schooling on how to be a gentleman or how to be with the ladies. Rosalind/Ganymede (woo-woo) with the assistance of her best friend Celia (awww) convinces Orlando (yeahhh) to pretend that she is Rosalind (woo-woo)… which she is, but he doesn’t know that. Unbeknownst to him, he practices all his lines and his moves on the actual girl.

BUT WAIT! Dun! Dun! Dun! Duke Fredrick (booooo) is enraged when he finds out his daughter Celia (awwww) left with Rosalind (yeahhhh), and since Rosalind (woo-woo) left at the same time as Orlando (yeahhhh), he smells a rat. There is no rat, but he makes Oliver (booooo) lead the manhunt, claiming that if Oliver (booooo) doesn’t find his brother Orlando (yeahhh), then Duke Fredrick (booooo) will steal all of Oliver’s (booooo) property. And while he’s at it, Duke Fredrick (boooooo) decides, “Hey, if we’re heading to the forest, it’s high time I destroy my brother Duke Senior (yeahhhh) once and for all.” So Duke Fredrick starts up an army (Be all that you can be.)

Then one day, Orlando (yeahhh) doesn’t show up for his tutorial, and Rosalind/Ganymede (woo-woo), devastated, thinks he is standing her up. Then Oliver (booooo) shows up and tells the story about how Orlando (yeahhh) stumbled upon Oliver (booooo) in the forest and saved him from an angry lion! Nothing like saving your enemy from a lion to get forgiveness. All is well, and oh my gosh, say it isn’t so, Oliver takes one look at Celia/Aliena and the two fall madly in love.

Phoebe (Talk to the hand) is still nutso-gutso in love with Ganymede (AKA Rosalind) so Rosalind (woo-woo) decides to end this craziness, and she plans a wedding. She tells Phoebe she will marry her, if she “ever were to marry a woman”, but she makes Phoebe promise that if Phoebe decides she DOESN’T want to marry Ganymede, then Phoebe MUST marry Sylvius. Phoebe, convinced that she would NEVER decide NOT to marry Ganymede, agrees to this promise. (Nice use of a double negative)

The day of the wedding comes. Everyone is there. Ganymede and Aliena disappear briefly and return as themselves, and Phoebe thinks, "OMG, I can’t marry a girl!" So she is caught in her promise, and agrees to marry Sylvius. Of course, Orlando (yeahhh) couldn’t be happier to see his tutor posing as “his love” was “his love” all along. So then the god of marriage, Hymen, shows up (whaaaa?). He presides over the wedding, which is kind of like a Sun Myung Moon Mass Ceremony: Orlando marries Rosalind, Oliver marries Celia, Sylvius marries Phoebe, and the jester Touchstone marries Audrey (some random simple sheep girl).

Oh, and on his way to kill his brother, Duke Fredrick (boooooo) has a change of heart and decides to enter the monastic life (whaaaa?). Hey, God changes people.

Everyone’s happy, and nobody dies. Just as you like it. Just as we all like it.

P.S. You all know the quote “All the world’s a stage…”, but did you know what play it came from? Yep, it comes from “As You Like It”. It’s recited by a guy who I never even mentioned in the summary: Jaques, some lord who hangs out with Duke Senior in the Forest. He gets a kick out of being melancholy, and it’s quite funny, because his obsession with being sad is juxtaposed with everybody else in the play who is quite happy with being happy. Here is the quote in its entirety.

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well saved a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. (2.7.139)

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