Shakespeare Saturday: Watch It As You Like It

I know. I know. The title. It’s brilliant, isn’t it? I have a gift.

Welcome to Week Dos of Shakespeare-a-palooza 2: The Macbeth-ening of Cactus! It’s I, C, the great nerd!

Now, in  case you forgot (or skipped last week because history), Saturday is reserved for giving you some options for viewing each of the plays we pair. You know, in case you don’t want to meet us in Canada in two weeks. If you do, we’ll be the fools sitting in Balzac’s for hours at a time, drinking tea and talking about theater. We can all take a pilgrimage to Anna Mae’s together for Shoo-Fly Pie and the best damn Amish chicken ever. (OK, OK… that’s totally Yoder’s over in Sarasota, but this is really damn close.) But, in case you can’t do that (or want nothing to do with us), here’s some versions of this week’s play you can watch from the comfort of your own home.

(First, though… I want to thank A for her continued support of my don’t-support-actors-who-don’t-think-Shakespeare-wrote-his-plays campaign. Boo, Derek Jacobi. Boo.

Also, she missed one version of Richard II I think a lot of y’all would like, if you can get your hands on it. I’ll post a scene of it here and all y’all will know why I think you’ll like it.

Yes. The Doctor. And it’s one of the play’s best scenes. So… if you can get your hands on it, check it out.)

Moving on.

The most readily accessible version of As You Like It has to be the Kenneth Branagh-directed (he’s done most of the plays, really) version from 2006 with Bryce Dallas Howard as Rosalind and David Oyelowo as Orlando. Kevin Kline is also in it as Jaques, the deliverer of that “All the world’s a stage” speech you’ve all heard of. It’s set in 19th century Japan after the Meiji Restoration, and is available on HBO. (So find someone with an HBOGo password and watch to your heart’s content.)

If you’re willing to do a bit more work, As You Like It is also Laurence Olivier’s first Shakespeare film. He’s so young, he didn’t even direct or produce, just starred as Orlando. This one’s from all the way back in 1936, and it’s worth watching only to see a storied Shakespearean’s not-so-glorious debut. Compare this to his later efforts and feel better that you’re not farther on the path to your dreams by remembering even Olivier started somewhere.

There is also the always trusty BBC Television Shakespeare, which gave us, as you recall, Nerd Cactus’ favorite version of Taming of the Shrew to date. (If you were here last year, you’ll remember that the stage version up in Stratford was something of a disappointment to us.) Always a stalwart, it provides very serviceable versions of just about every play (though its Richard II is Derek Jacobi. Boo. BOO!) that any Shakespeare fan could want. Its As You Like It stars the inimitable Helen Mirren as Rosalind. It’s film locations are notably at odds with the words of the play, but everyone turns in damn good performances! AND the guy inside the Darth Vader suit plays the fighter Charles, so… that’s fun!

Having gone to YouTube, I did all the work for you! Both the Olivier and Mirren versions of this play are available there! So…

Here’s the Laurence Olivier version:

Here’s the Helen Mirren version:

 

That’s it, I think, for easily accessible versions (unless you want to watch local Shakespeare-in-the-Park style performances, of which there are a couple versions on YouTube). If you have access to RSC performances, you really should try to get your hands on a filmed version because plays are always best when performed as a play. On a stage. (Which, if you know anything about the one-act we’re writing, just earned a smirk from Ben Jonson.) If you’re looking for something to read, there’s actually a manga version, too! But… I confess, I’m not one for manga or anime. Just a personal thing, but it means I can’t really give an informed opinion.

We’ll be back tomorrow with something silly! Until then… it’s time for this woman to make one of those exits I hear tell about. I’ll see you Monday!

C

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