Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Shakespeare's Twilight and What Happens When a Bard Loosens his Jeggings

This weekend was all about getting my Shake on at Navy Pier during a hilarious adaptation of As You Like It.  Of all his plays, I think William Shakespeare's As You Like It is by far the easiest to understand and most relaxed.  In the play, what happens in the forest stays in the forest . . . life is simpler: commoners and gentry share their food and their devotion without identity concerns while donned in organic rags or damask jodphurs and tight bustiers.  It's frivolous and absurd, with more plot holes than Swiss Lorraine--almost as if the Bard threw up his lace decorated cuffs and said, "Fine, sirrah. Whatever. Do you desire then that the gods had made me light?"

Light. Sort of silly but that's exactly how Shakespeare planned the play of charm, a play so 
artificial that no one could be expected to take it seriously.  The Bard knew audiences prefer, above everything else, to be gently and good-humoredly amused.  Of course, it's possible to raise an eyebrow at the implausibility of most of the characters and especially the lovely Rosalind, who "hides" her beauty as a man--wink wink--and goes quietly into the night and into the Forest of Arden cross-dressed as a gentleman to protect her exiled BFF.

Sure, in AYLI the amazingly famous quotes are tucked therein including, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players," and the lesser quoted but one of my favorites: "Do you not know I am a woman? When I think, I must speak" ( insert smiley here).  But with AYLI, Bill lets down his ironed and curled hair and loosens his laced back jeggings. Entwined with a sprinkle of angst and squirmy scenes like the novel Twilight and its vampires who sparkle, all the blemishes throughout are calculated to produce smiles of a happy reader and audience, but forsake me not. I'm not comparing the luminous Bard's words with those of Stephenie Meyer's. I am, however, comparing the intent: to compel and entertain, and both do this well.
Perhaps we have something to learn from both famed scribes; as writers, playwrights and authors, we're all one in entertaining the masses. But Bill S. dazzled us first, and I think he did it best.

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