As You Like It

Introduction

As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 and first published in the First Folio, 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility. As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle's court, accompanied by her cousin Celia to find safety and, eventually, love, in the Forest of Arden. In the forest, they encounter a variety of memorable characters, notably the melancholy traveller Jaques who speaks many of Shakespeare's most famous speeches (such as "All the world's a stage" and "A fool! A fool! I met a fool in the forest"). Jaques provides a sharp contrast to the other characters in the play, always observing and disputing the hardships of life in the country. Historically, critical response has varied, with some critics finding the work of lesser quality than other Shakespearean works and some finding the play a work of great merit.

The play features one of Shakespeare's most famous and oft-quoted speeches, "All the world's a stage", and is the origin of the phrase "too much of a good thing". The play remains a favourite among audiences and has been adapted for radio, film, and musical theatre. The piece has been a favorite for famous actors on stage and screen, notably Vanessa Redgrave, Juliet Stevenson, Rebecca Hall, Helen Mirren, and Patti LuPone in the role of Rosalind and Alan Rickman, Stephen Spinella, Kevin Kline and Stephen Dillane in the role of Jaques.


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