Saturday, June 20, 2009

As You Like It

I've just revisited Stratford after 30 years and found it to be rather a tourist trap - Shakespeare's birthplace and grave are certainly there as are churches etc.

The real jewel in the crown is the Royal Shakespeare - you can see it is being renovated with the Courtyard being the RSC temporary home. We met brother and sister in-law to see As You Like It

All the world's a stage As You Like It 2/7
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Absolutely superb - I've seen Shakespeare in prestigious venues,
on film and read but these were brilliant.
Done in the round with the minimum of scenery
- the power of the words and the performance mesmerising.
The play is so upbeat anyway.

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