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Saturday, November 22, 2003

Words do well when he that speaks them pleases those that hear

Last night we saw As You Like It for the second time this week. This afternoon will make a third. It's not inasmuch as we like it, the play; rather as Anneliese has the part of Phebe in her school's production this weekend. So Tuesday we took her to see a version put on by a roving troop of players, the Royal Theatre of Bath, directed by Sir Peter Hall. It was an odd version, in that Hall, to bring out the real emotional concomitants of love and loss, drove over laugh lines, refused to catch any paronomasia's eye, and softened pratfalls into prat-descents. And yet, strangely, the melancholy Jacques was seldom melancholy (as this interpretation of the play would seem to invite), but rather caustic, bellowing, and a-brim with sniggers. Rosalind was really excellent, though. Played by Hall's super-tall, gangling, strikingly featured daughter Rebecca, she was the first Rosalind I've seen who was absolutely convincing as a boy.

In her school production, Anneliese, I'm pleased to say (with no shred of parental bias), steals the show. The Rosalind is competent at best. Orlando is abysmal. The show belongs entirely to Touchstone, Sylvius, and Phebe.

Anneliese makes Phebe's split personality speech into a total hoot.

PHEBE. Think not I love him, though I ask for him;
'Tis but a peevish boy; yet he talks well.
But what care I for words? Yet words do well
When he that speaks them pleases those that hear.
It is a pretty youth- not very pretty;
But, sure, he's proud; and yet his pride becomes him.
He'll make a proper man. The best thing in him
Is his complexion; and faster than his tongue
Did make offence, his eye did heal it up.
He is not very tall; yet for his years he's tall;
His leg is but so-so; and yet 'tis well.
There was a pretty redness in his lip,
A little riper and more lusty red
Than that mix'd in his cheek; 'twas just the difference
Betwixt the constant red and mingled damask.
There be some women, Silvius, had they mark'd him
In parcels as I did, would have gone near
To fall in love with him; but, for my part,
I love him not, nor hate him not . . . .

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