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AS YOU LIKE IT (article first published : 2008-09-9)

As You Like It, Shakespeare’s madcap comedy about life and love, will be presented at the 8th Annual Shakespeare Festival at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

In the tradition of previous successful productions like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, and last year’s Winter’s Tale, the comedy aims to foster appreciation of Shakespeare as an accessible and ‘living’ playwright, particularly for younger learners.

Originally written to celebrate a wedding, As You Like It dramatizes the paths of love for four very different couples as they wander through the magical forest of Arden. Set in motion by a battle between two brothers, the story of the play really concerns the courtship of the two young lovers, Rosalind and Orlando. This is complicated hilariously by the fact that, in fleeing from her nasty cousin’s court to the forest, Rosalind has disguised herself for safety as a man!

Add to this mix a pair of misguided shepherds, a not-too-bright country wench, a deliciously naughty fool, a sweet love-at-first-sight miracle, the resolution of not one, but two, brotherly feuds, and, of course, a full-on wrestling match, and you have some of what makes As You Like It one of Shakespeare’s most performed and best-loved plays.

With its central character, Rosalind, considered one of Shakespeare’s most inspiring and delightful heroines, As You Like It is one of the Bard’s greatest comedies. Rosalind acts as the catalyst for the characters’ search for true self-knowledge and, through this, for happiness in love. In the best tradition of the pastoral, this occurs within the magic of the forest world where time seems to slow down, life seems ‘more sweet’ and, indeed, we may find, as Duke Senior says, ‘good in every thing’.

Source of one of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches – ‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players’ – this play is an adventure in the romance and laughter of life, offering up a world where anything can happen and nothing is impossible, a world that will leave you smiling and uplifted with its promise of ‘mirth in heaven when earthly things are made even’.

Directed by Tamar Meskin and Rowin Munsamy, the play is an exploration of the simple wonders of life – love, laughter, friendship and hope – as well as a sharp and witty comment on the foolishness of social pretence and indulgence.

As You Like It includes a large cast of up and coming young performers. It runs nightly at 18h30 pm from September 15 to 20 at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. Tickets R30 (R15 students, scholars, pensioners and block bookings over 10). Teachers bringing scholars are admitted free.

Contact Claudette Wagner for bookings and/or information on 031 260 3133, fax 031 260 1410 or email – wagnerc1@ukzn.ac.za




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