As you like it

Posted on 2010-10-02 21:02

I enjoyed watching Lawrence Olivier in Shakespeare's As You Like It tonight. Certainly not Olivier's best work (filmed in 1936 it was actually his first on-screen performance of Shakespeare) but having never read the play or seen it performed before I have to say that at the least it held my attention - the wife can attest that I usually can't sit through an entire movie, so the fact that I didn't get up at about 40 minutes in to do that really-important-thing I had forgotten to do is saying something. Probably the most famous dialogue in the play is in Act II, Scene 7 where the melancholy Jaques, Duke Senior's fool prophesies the dismal doom of man in the last of seven stages of life, just as Orlando and his aged servant Adam enters exhibiting none of these hallmarks and instead provides a poignant (and silent) counterpoint in loyalty and honor.

JAQUES 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 school-boy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful 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 slipper'd 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 toward 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. Re-enter ORLANDO, with ADAM