All you need is As You Like It

Lindsey Angell & Harveen Sandhu are Rosalind and Celia in Bard on the Beach’s signature comedy of 2018, and one of the most impressive to date.  (Photo: Tim Matheson, Bard on the Beach)

Daniel J. Rowe

How do you get from All You Need Is Love to a wrestling ring to a gender bending Shakespearean pastoral comedy to a pair of shoes to die for?

As You Like It. 

Bard on the Beach has upped its game again this year with what’s become a smash hit in the Beatles-infused musical hippy rendition of the play for its 2018 season.

The play is straight up entertainment from cover to cover with director Daryl Cloran missing no opportunity to hit a comedic, dramatic, romantic or musical note jumping from court to forest with style and side-splitting comedy epitomized by the John Fleuvog sixties-inspired shoes Rosalind (Lindsey Angell) wears at the end that every shoe-loving female (my mom included) will be drooling over.

NOTE: you may plan to not sing along to every song, but might very well catch yourself with eyes closed quietly singing “Something” by the end. Guilty.

The concept, sixties-based, hippy court and forest with Beatles music throughout, only had two possible outcomes: success or failure. Cloran’s production is cemented in the latter.

The set is stylish and not overly complicated, the costumes are superb, and the cast in this character-rich play is great. Each entry is exciting, and there are a few – scene stealers Ben Carlson (Jaques), Ben Elliott (Silvius) and Luisa Jojic (Phoebe) –  who add such an delightfully unexpected charm to the second half that the play continues chugging to the end. Jojic and Emma Slipp (Audrey) enter late in the play and both have stellar voices that’ll give you shivers.

My dad was obsessed with Silvius; so funny, such great moves.

Speaking of moves. The WWE-style wrestling match in the first act was a super clever move, using Beatles music, of course, was a great turn, but… Sigh… I have to say, swapping the Forest of Arden with the Okanagan? Not a fan. Maybe because I grew up in the Okanagan, or because it got a cheap laugh, or because the Forest of Arden is just such an important locale in the Shakespeare canon or because I just don’t like when they change names in plays to make it local that I did not like that. In the end, it wasn’t really needed.

That one gripe aside, there is no way I cannot recommend this play to newbie and snob alike. It captures this clever play for all of it’s charm and wit, and gives a quality platform for one of the greatest female roles on Renaissance drama. The musicians nail the music, and the swapping of the bard’s lines with the songs is something a purist may have a problem with most of the time, but in this play it really works. The only detraction is that Rosalind’s epilogue gets cut in lieu of “All You Need is Love.” Hmmm. Is that cool? Meh, whatever. It left everyone clapping.

I’ll post the epilogue here just to assuage my Shakespeare cynic guilt:

It is not the fashion to see the lady the
epilogue, but it is no more unhandsome than to see
the lord the prologue. If it be true that good wine
needs no bush, ’tis true that a good play needs no
epilogue. Yet to good wine they do use good bushes,
and good plays prove the better by the help of good
epilogues. What a case am I in then that am neither
a good epilogue nor cannot insinuate with you in
the behalf of a good play! I am not furnished like a
beggar; therefore to beg will not become me. My
way is to conjure you, and I’ll begin with the
women. I charge you, O women, for the love you
bear to men, to like as much of this play as please
you. And I charge you, O men, for the love you bear
to women—as I perceive by your simpering, none
of you hates them—that between you and the
women the play may please. If I were a woman, I
would kiss as many of you as had beards that
pleased me, complexions that liked me, and breaths
that I defied not. And I am sure as many as have
good beards, or good faces, or sweet breaths will for
my kind offer, when I make curtsy, bid me farewell.
(exeunt)
  – Rosalind

If you have not already, and if you’re in Vancouver, you’ve got to check out this play. BOB added more performances, but don’t be lazy; they will sell out.

The company of As You Like it is a quality blend of personalities with solid energy and incredible comic timing. Ben Carlson (orange and brown ensemble) as Jaques is melancholic brilliance. (Photo: Tim Matheson. Bard on the Beach)

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Sorry Bill I just Don’t Get It!

Troy Clements

So I’m not sure about you guys but Shakespeare is F ing hard to understand right?! I mean I just can’t seem to get my head around some of it. Especially if you are a fella coming from the maritime provinces where ya got lots of different kinds of fish spears but no Shakespeares unless you’re just trying to get the fish off your spear. I suppose you could call that shake spear?

I mean com’on, did people really talk like this??

A man may, if he were of a fearful heart,
stagger in this attempt; for here we have no temple
but the wood, no assembly but horn-beasts. But what
though? Courage! As horns are odious, they are
necessary. It is said, ‘many a man knows no end of
his goods:’ right; many a man has good horns, and
knows no end of them. Well, that is the dowry of
his wife; ‘tis none of his own getting. Horns?
Even so. Poor men alone? No, no; the noblest deer
hath them as huge as the rascal. Is the single man
therefore blessed? No: as a walled town is more
worthier than a village, so is the forehead of a
married man more honourable than the bare brow of a
bachelor; and by how much defence is better than no
skill, by so much is a horn more precious than to want.

– As You Like It, Act3, Scene 3

Haha ahh insert WTF emoticon here…I mean, Christ, feels like I’m talking to Steven Hawking about the origin of the universe. Isn’t this stuff supposed to be about like love, lust and other normal people shit?

I mean I get it. Everybody likes to show off and use “smart words” but cut us some slack Bill: either ease back on the drugs or come down off your pedestal and drop the “smart words.”

We get it, you talk good!

So if you feel the same way as I do, but still wanna get to the most outta Shakespeare… fuck it, just cheat!

I found a simple audio book app that has many Shakespeare ditties.

There are a few that break down entire plays in 15min, written in a way even children can understand. Well, to be honest, its still a little complicated at times as it was written for children who lived in the early 1900’s…I guess kids were smarter then? Makes me wonder what happened to the baby boomers?

What did I learn from ole Nesbit’s approach that I didn’t learn from Eric Jean you ask?  An example would be from Two Gentleman of Verona, a play of platonic love and fidelity where the character Speed – who I really enjoy – says,

O jest unseen, inscrutable, invisible,
As a nose on a man’s face, or a weathercock on a steeple!
My master sues to her, and she hath
taught her suitor,
He being her pupil, to become her tutor.
O excellent device! was there ever heard a better,
That my master, being scribe, to himself should write
the letter?

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 2, Scene 1

This scene is about Silvia asking Valentine to write a sort of love letter to a friend of hers cause she doesn’t have time to do it herself.  But in truth she wants Valentine to actually write the letter to her…(big communication issues if you ask me).  Valentine, who is smitten with love and not thinking clearly, doesn’t pick up on her obvious nuances and writes some half-ass letter that falls short and Silvia kinda gets pissed off.  When Silvia leaves the room Speed pipes up, poking fun at Valentine, pointing out that she clearly wanted him to write the letter to her.

Nesbit doesn’t really explain the entire scene but does bring Speed’s lines down to earth a bit.  She references the weathercock on a steeple jab, meaning that its very obvious as to what Silvia is up too.  This is what made things clearer for me, allowing for the entire scene to make sense.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/audiobooks/id311507490?mt=8

Anyway…if you are looking for the easy way out check out the app Audiobooks and download Edith Nesbit’s Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare  (or buy the real, live printed book form. Remember those?) and if you still don’t understand…well, blame your parents.

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