I'm Thalia! I run a book blog called Pictures in the Words and I hope to be an editor for YA fiction. I'm a GoodReads refugee!
This is the first in a series of many Shakespeare reviews I’ll be writing. Last semester, I took a Shakespeare class in school, so I ended up reading a lot of his plays through the course of the semester. Of course, that started back in September, and I apologize that is has taken me this long to write all these reviews (I think I’m behind about…fifteen or so reviews…). And I’m sorry in advance that these Shakespeare reviews will probably be mostly boring, since the majority of the plays left me with a very “eh” feeling at the end. There were a couple that stood out to me (although the ones I really liked are ones I’ve already reviewed here), but mostly I just felt okay about them. So this might feel a bit like I’m writing for the sake of writing, but I still want you guys to know my recommendations for everything I read!
As You Like It is a play I saw the first half of my first semester in college. (I ended up being sick for the second half, so I never did see the end.) It might be one of these plays you really need to see on stage to appreciate the dialogue, how well the lines flow together. I didn’t understand the love story between Rosalind and Orlando (or any of the other characters, for that matter), but it wasn’t unenjoyable to read. It had its moments where I found it funny, and times when I just kind of wanted it to be over. This is one of Shakespeare’s comedies, so if you enjoy the traditional comedy form, you’ll probably like this particular play.
What I Liked: Spoilers!
· Perhaps because I had seen the first half of the play, I could feel the vibrancy of the characters come through in the dialogue. I could imagine them all sitting together and talking, or trudging through the forest and talking, or standing up suddenly and arguing, etc. I could hear it in my mind, and that made it genuinely enjoyable. On top of that, there was an excellent cast of characters who contrasted and complimented each other, which is something I sometimes find lacking in Shakespeare’s plays—characters who all kind of feel the same. And while they kind of do feel the same in comparison to all Shakespeare’s characters in general, they work together very nicely in this setting and atmosphere.
What I Didn’t Like:
· I really wanted to believe the romance between Rosalind and Orlando. I really wanted to. However, I just couldn’t put aside the idea that neither of them really knew each other, and that was only amplified by the fact that Rosalind pretended to be Rosalind (while she was pretending to be a boy) and had Orlando “woo” her—and even though she was a total jerk to him most of the time, we were somehow supposed to believe she loved him through that. I just didn’t quite get it. It’s too awkward of an idea for me to grasp, and hearkens back to the old “if a boy pulls your hair, it means he likes you” thing we told ourselves as children. It makes a little more sense when you watch it being acted out, but as the text, it didn’t really work for me. The idea is strange, and I just wished they’d had a little more time together so I could fall in love with them.
Overall: I’d say it was pretty average all the way through—there are some amazing lines, and other things that didn’t work so well. It’s not one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, by any means, but it was enjoyable, as far as comedies go. I think I’d prefer a film version over the text, but I guess that’s to be kind of expected from plays (which are meant to be seen and not read anyway). It was kind of mind-boggling to think of an Old English boy playing Rosalind playing a boy playing Rosalind, though…