“As You Like It,” a pastoral comedy, has been called Shakespeare’s most charming and most frivolous play, the essence being essentially nonsense—and yet, the story revolves around the hatred between Duke Senior and her younger brother, Duke Frederick, who forces Duke Senior to flee and take refuge in the Forest of Arden. Once there with her family and followers, love blooms, people sing and dance, and the play ends with generosity, love, reconciliation, and everyone getting the ending they like, be it happy, fractious, contentious melancholy or even monastic. As the saying goes nowadays, “It’s all good,” or as Shakespeare would have it, it’s “As You Like It.”
The play is known for one of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches, “All the world’s a stage…,” and the expression, “too much of a good thing.” It is also known as a musical comedy with songs such as “Under the Greenwood Tree” and “Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind,”—more songs than any other of Shakespeare’s plays.
In VTC’s production, director Adrienne Major has set the play in modern time, more or less, to emphasize both the constraint and artifice in the usurper Duke Frederick’s court. Thus, the costumes for Act 1 are rigidly monochromatic and restricting. All this changes for Duke Senior’s court when they escape to Arden Forest and intermingle with the local denizens. The characters leave their current reality behind, escaping from constraint by running off to a Medieval Faire.
Performances are at 6 pm, Thursday through Sunday, June 26 to 29, at the Rotary Stage in Brattleboro’s Living Memorial Park. All tickets are $5, no charge for children 6 and under. Come early and bring a picnic. “As You Like It” is the final production of VTC’s 30th anniversary season. For more information visit www.vermonttheatrecompany.org.