Shakespeare’s As You Like It


Aanya Gangam, Contributor '27

William Shakespeare’s As You Like It is a beautifully crafted play that feeds its readers the true taste of an engrossing romance. The deadly ambiance of Duke’s Court, a place where emotions are obscured, perfectly intertwine with the Forest of Arden, a place of happiness and love, is successfully fulfilled and is what helps develop one of the most memorable pieces of the performance, the distinguished plot. Touchstone, who is a fool, is possibly the most memorable character for his sense of humor and wit throughout the play, and both productions draw on this character in very different ways. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production embraces more of the Renaissance style, while the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company emphasizes a creative and unique approach to Shakespeare’s work and paints a new picture of As You Like It.

The Otto M. Budig Theater is a playground for actors to freely play their roles and interact with their audience because of the open stage and closed-in audience. CSC created its production in the 1990s, a time of trends, which complement Shakespeare’s plays. An example of this included the 1990s style of clothing, including overalls, ripped jeans, bandanas, and clothing, which was the most popular during this era. The lights (used to convey strong emotions) were used especially during scenes when two characters felt raptly of eachother, and the lights turned pink when this occurred. This gave the audience a better understanding of how quickly many characters were able to fall in love. On the other hand, RSC represented As You Like It in a more traditional way, which is a major difference between these two productions. The clothing that the RCS decided to give the characters complimented the Renaissance period with brown and beige, and the props gave the stage a very grand appearance. Another difference was Touchstone’s design; however, RCS went for a more “literal” design for Touchstone, giving him more of a ‘foolish’ look. The CSC did not use clothing or character design to represent Touchstone but instead exaggerated his comedic behavior throughout the show. Both productions play around with Shakespeare’s play, but CSC used more unique aspects such as clothing, while RCS followed the show as written and went for more of a Renaissance appearance.

These productions create a wrestling scene in divergent ways, especially because of how prominent this is in Act I. CSC’s take on this scene was extremely engaging: flips, rolling, and acrobatics were used to amuse the audience. CSC also creatively made the boxing arena; the men of the court were seen holding rope that imitated the fence used outside of a real arena. This rope also moved with Charles the Wrestler and Orlando, characters who were fighting each other. This gave Shakespeare’s work more comedy and widened the audience. While the CSC created a unique approach to this scene, RCS emulated this scene as picture-perfect to the actual book and how it was written. Most of the RCS’s take on the wrestling scene was the incorporation of the Renaissance, particularly aiming for a style that would have been manifest during that period, giving the audience a better understanding of the Renaissance period. CSC and RCS express different ideas of the wrestling match using different creative ways to interpret this fight as being more modernized and sticking to the Renaissance Title.

Overall, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s take on As You Like It is creatively thought out and entertaining. Orlando writes all these love poems to overwhelm the audience with many of the love poems Orlando writes for Rosalind in the Forest of Arden; CSC covers trees and parts of the set with dozens of poems. Not only does this articulate Shakespeare’s theme of ‘love at first sight’, but it also helps the audience grasp how in love Orlando was with Rosalind. The CSC was able to successfully incorporate the 1990s rock into this ancient play, making it an exciting and praiseworthy performance.