After reading Richard III and Othello recently, this light-hearted comedy seemed a bit tame. As You Like It is typically partnered with Twelfth Night, both known for their cross-dressing. As You Like It revolves around a Duke's banishment by his brother, forcing him into the Forest of Arden where its inhabitants realise the horrendous nature of the court, and the beauty and serenity of the forest, and nature itself.
Of course, Shakespeare's comedy would not be a comedy if it wasn't centred around love. In the forefront of the play we have Rosalind and Orlando, Celia and Oliver, Touchstone and Audrey, and Silvius and Phebe. Rosalind, dressed as a young shepherd, tries to teach Orlando the true meaning of love, and aims to remove the courtly, fake love that was instilled in his childhood. Oliver, Orlando's evil brother, falls in love with Celia and changes his ways. Touchstone, the fool, finds his only comfort within the forest in a 'country wench' who supposedly falls in love with him. And Silvius, another young shepherd, tries to win the heart of mean Phebe, who has her heart set on Ganymede. The love story is relatively simple, cumulating into 4 marriages and 4 happy couples.
I'd like to say that I enjoyed As You Like It, but after realising the beauty of Shakespeare's histories, the comedies now seem highly lacking. While they are easy, contently reads, the lack of great scandals and schemes leads to an overall sense of disappointment.
However, there are great parts to As You Like It. Jaque's famous 'All the world's a stage' monologue, and the Duke's opening monologue prove Shakespeare's skill and craft. Like always, the play are wonderfully well written, with Shakespeare showing what he can do. I just wish there was more substance to the play. While the contrasts between the Forest of Arden and the 'painted pomp' of the court provide some interesting simulation, I wish there was more umph to the story.