As You Like It
Director: Sir Peter Hall
The Peter Hall Company
Before he died, Sir Rowland de Boys asked Oliver, the eldest of his three sons, to see to the education of the younger two. Jacques, the middle son, was sent to university but Orlando, was kept at home, poor and uneducated. Orlando opens the play by complaining about his lot to a faithful elderly servant, Adam. Orlando says that although he was born a gentleman, he has been stripped of all status and is worse off than the animals. When he challenges Oliver about the situation, his brother becomes angry and decides to have Orlando killed by a ferocious wrestler, Charles.
Duke Senior has been usurped by his wicked younger brother, Frederick and taken refuge in the Forest of Arden with some companions. There they live 'like the old Robin Hood of England'. Rosalind still lives at court as companion to her cousin Celia, Duke Frederick’s only child.
The two stories meet when Orlando, determined to do something about his situation, decides to fight Charles the Wrestler. No one believes Orlando has any chance of winning. Rosalind and Celia join a crowd of lords and attendants to watch the fight. Orlando wins and he and Rosalind fall head over heels in love.
Matters take a turn for the worse when Duke Frederick discovers that Orlando is the son of his old enemy, Sir Rowland de Boys. Le Beau urges Orlando to leave court. Orlando flees to the Forest of Arden.
Duke Frederick turns his anger on Rosalind and orders banishes her. Celia and Rosalind decide to go into the Forest in search of Duke Senior, taking with them Frederick’s jester, Touchstone. For safety’s sake, Rosalind disguises herself as a boy and calls herself Ganymede. Celia dresses 'in poor and mean attire' and changes her name to Aliena.
Disguised as a young man - Ganymede - Rosalind goes into the Forest of Arden, where she meets Orlando again. Knowing Orlando to be in love with Rosalind, she persuades him to pretend that, though apparently a man, he/she is really Rosalind and woo her as he would his sweetheart.
To complicate matters, a shepherdess, Phebe, falls in love with Ganymede. A shepherd, Silvius loves Phebe and is heartbroken. Rosalind rejects Phebe. She tells her to treat Silvius kindly and to be thankful for his love. Touchstone the clown falls for a goat herd called Audrey, who is turn is loved by a simple countryman, William. Celia doesn’t have much to do in the forest but spends some of the time gathering cliché-ridden love poems which Orlando has written to Rosalind and pinned on trees all over Arden.
Meanwhile back at court, the enraged Duke Frederick orders Oliver de Boys to capture Orlando dead or alive. Later, in Arden, Orlando finds 'a wretched ragged man, overgrown with hair' lying asleep under an old oak tree, a poisonous snake at his throat. He frightens away the snake, which slithers off into a bush, in which same bush Orlando sees a ravenous lion crouching, ready to pounce.
Recognising the unkempt man as his hateful brother Oliver, Orlando decides to let the lion eat him. Just in time, Orlando changes his mind and saves his brother from certain death. Changed by this act of great goodness, Oliver asks Orlando for forgiveness and promises to give him his rightful inheritance. Jaques de Boys arrives in the forest with the news that Duke Frederick has met 'an old religious man' and seen the error of his ways. Repentant, Frederick restores land and wealth to Duke Senior.
The play ends happily and with many marriages ordained by Hymen, the Greek and Roman god of marriage. Rosalind marries Orlando, Celia marries the now-loving Oliver, Touchstone marries Audrey and the shepherdess, Phebe marries Silvius. All exiles leave the forest and return to court.
UK & US tour 2004 - 05
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