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 in 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", "too much of a good thing" 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 play a work of great merit and some finding the work of lesser quality than other Shakespearean works. The play remains a favourite among audiences and has been adapted for radio, film, and musical theatre. The piece has been a favourite of famous actors on stage and screen, notably Vanessa Redgrave, Juliet Stevenson, Maggie Smith, Rebecca Hall, Helen Mirren, and Patti LuPone in the role of Rosalind and Alan Rickman, Stephen Spinella, Kevin Kline, Stephen Dillane, and Ellen Burstyn in the role of Jaques.


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