So, as part of my due diligence, directing As You Like It, I like to go back and look at some of the past versions of the play that I can find on film or video.
Today, the 1992 version…
In 1992, Christine Edzard filmed a modern dress version set in and around London. The homeless of the modern industrial wasteland were the denizens of the Forest of Arden. While that sounds like it might be interesting, and it might well be, but I wouldn’t know from this.
It begins with Jaques’ “All the world’s a stage” speech in an opulent room. Why? I haven’t a clue. When Orlando and Oliver have their confrontation, there is no “laying on of hands” though they mention it. I didn’t realize that the two characters were played (and played excellently) by the same actor, Andrew Tiernan… so I guess they couldn’t have him interact with himself a la Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black. But still it felt off, wrong. As did the non-display of the wrestling match; all we saw were the reactions of the spectators.
Line readings were either bored or melodramatic, as if the attempt was being made to make the audience melancholy. Not helping was the overemphasized music.
This is not to say it’s all bad. Having Orlando’s poetry be urban graffiti was pretty cool, and Emma Croft’s Rosalind was ok (her Ganymede was much better, though). but it was mostly bad, without joy or comedy. Or resolution: the last on-screen, pre-credit line was Rosalind’s revelation to Orlando, delivered with a playful punch to the arm. The Jaques exposition about Frederick comes as a confused voice-over during the credits. And no epilogue.
And can anyone tell me why the “lion” who attacks the de Boys boys is a black man? A black man? Really?
Not good. Not enjoyable. This is one to avoid.