As You Like It. And you better believe you’re gonna like it, reader. It’s a fun, fast-paced, sweet, witty romp that ends with four weddings and NO funerals. Not interested? What if I told you there was a murderous brother, a cross-dressing love triangle that somehow exists between two people, another love triangle/square/thing involving just about everyone, and recitations of foolishness as only a fool can deliver? It’s all there and more. Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy is pleasing on many levels without being contrived or convoluted. It’s a favorite amongst audiences and though critical response has been fractured throughout its history, it contains some of Shakespeare’s most often quoted speeches and has provided roles for the likes of Helen Mirren, Patti LuPone, Alan Rickman, and Kevin Kline (all of whom are wonderful, and C will direct you to their filmed versions as applies).
The play begins in France though a majority of the action takes place in the forest of Arden. Duke Ferdinand has usurped his older brother’s power and exiled Duke Senior. Ferdinand allows Rosalind, his niece, to remain behind as she is his own daughter, Celia’s, only companion. Meanwhile Orlando is seeking his fortune since his older brother, Oliver, has denied him his inheritance and an education. He falls in love with Rosalind when he is at court. Rosalind falls in love with Orlando as well. Then Duke Ferdinand exiles Rosalind and she, Celia, and a fool run away to the forest of Arden. Mayhem and shenanigans ensue.
Listen, I’m not going to give away the whole plot… Just read it. It’s a relatively easy Shakespeare read, in my opinion. In fact, I think some critics have referred to it as a lesser work simply because it’s accessible, and they’re weirdly elitist. No, it’s not one of Shakespeare’s deepest explorations of the human condition, but it’s a solid, story with a well-written heroine, some fabulous speeches, and a very, very, very, very (one very for each couple) happy ending.
So what to pair with this fizzy cocktail of love and life? Make it a mimosa. You just can’t be in a bad mood with a mimosa in your hand and you can’t have a bad mood when you’re reading or watching As You Like It. It’s bubbly and fun, and maybe a little fruity. Perfection!