Network Theatre Company presents:
As You Like It
By William Shakespeare dramaturged by Bernie C Byrnes, directed by Bernie C Byrnes
As You Like It subverts the traditional rules of romance. Gender roles, nature and
politics are confused in a play that reflects on how bewildering and utterly silly life
The year is 1967, the ‘summer of love’, Women’s Liberation is to the fore. Duchess
Senior has been forced into exile from the court by the usurping Duke Frederick. She
takes refuge in the Forest of Arden with a band of faithful followers. Rosalind, her
daughter, is kept uneasily at court as a companion to her cousin Cecil, Frederick’s son.
Orlando de Boys, the youngest daughter of the late Sir Rowland de Boys, has been
kept in poverty by her brother Oliver since their father’s death. Orlando decides to
wrestle for her fortune at Frederick’s court, where she sees Rosalind and they fall in
The Duke banishes Rosalind, fearing that she is a threat to his rule. Cecil, refusing to
be parted from his cousin, goes with Rosalind to seek Duchess Senior in the Forest.
For safety they disguise themselves – Rosalind as the boy Ganymede and Cecil as his
sister Aliena – and persuade the fool Touchstone to accompany them.
On hearing of a plot by her brother to kill her, Orlando also flees to the Forest and
takes refuge with the exiled Dutchess. Posting love lyrics through the forest, Orlando
encounters Rosalind disguised as Ganymede. She challenges her love-sick state and
suggests that she should prove the strength of her love by wooing Ganymede as if ‘he’
Elsewhere in the Forest love also blossoms: the shepherd Silvius suffers unrequited
love for Phebe, who has fallen for Ganymede, while Touchstone is pursuing the goatherd
Oliver, sent into the Forest to hunt down Orlando, has his life saved by his sister,
becomes filled with remorse for his past behaviour and falls in love with Aliena.
Frustrated by the pain of her love for Rosalind, Orlando is unable to continue wooing
Ganymede, so Ganymede promises ‘he’ will conjure up the real Rosalind and that all
the lovers will finally be wed…