Tuesday, January 30, 2007

As You Like It: BBC Version

Helen Mirrin played Rosalind in this 1978 BBC production. I think she was a good choice for this role, and the other actors were also quite well-cast, I thought.

The DVD we rented from Netflix seemed faded: the colors were all very pale. The trees in the Forest of Arden all seemed to be a single shade of non-descript green. The faces of the actors all looked a pinkish grey. I suspect perhaps it was colorized. The sun never seemed to shine through the leaves nor to illuminate the castle walls and fields. The sound track was better, with much music that seemed fresh and clear.

Hearing the lines and the many songs made me realize that this play is both totally familiar and totally bizarre. Orlando, face to face with his lady love, can't recognize her because she's wearing a doublet and a man's cap instead of the outlandish headdress she wore in the first act. He comes close enough almost to kiss her in the scene where her disguised persona convinces him to "practice" his wooing. There seem to be almost too many set pieces in speeches like "All the world's a stage" and others, which it's hard for actors to bring to life.

Despite some dramatization, this production lacks the deep excitement and passion that can be a part of a video Shakespeare play. It's probably in part the nature of this play, in part the quality of this particular production.

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