Happily Ever After – As You Like It

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Sunday night was Closing Night for Marin Shakespeare’s 2014 production of As You Like It. I was there with about a dozen friends and students. Part of my responsibility as dramaturg, I have decided, is to bring as many people to the shows as I can, especially those who have never attended a Shakespeare play. I ply them with food and drink, and then sit back and let the place and the play do the rest. On Sunday, we had the added spectacle of the full “supermoon” rising gorgeously behind the stage, a phenomenon that I possibly — while in the throes of tailgating – implied was astronomical tribute to Shakespeare’s great pastoral comedy.

Hey, I’m an English major. Cosmic narcissism is our stock in trade.

But now, after a wonderful run, As You Like It is over and I am reluctant to let it go entirely. In our conversation about Jaques, Glenn Havlan speculated on Jaques’ career after Act 5 (you can listen to him yourself Enjoy excerpts from Glenn Havlan (mp3 MP3) I won’t spoil it for you here), and that has inspired me to think about the lives of the characters after Closing Night.

When it comes to characters in romantic comedies, this sort of speculation can be discouraging. Let’s take the wise-talking Rizzo (Stockard Channing) and tough guy Kenickie (Jeff Conway) from the 1979 musical Grease as an example. We applaud when they each set aside their defensive armor and admit they care for each other, but, seriously, how much of a chance does their relationship have? Ten years after graduation, Kenickie, 50 pounds heavier, will be sitting in a recliner in the living room of their doublewide, watching the game, and shouting at Rizzo, who is smoking in the kitchen and gabbing to a girlfriend on the phone, to bring him a beer. She’ll bring him one, alright: she’ll open the can and pour it over his head.

Better to leave them singing and dancing at the end with everyone else, and that is true of most couplings in romantic comedies. (Actress Stockard Channing, by the way, played Rosalind in As You Like It the year afterGrease was released.)

Despite the inevitably sordid differences between romantic comedies and marital reality, I’d nonetheless like to indulge in back-to-the future speculation about the dramatis personae in As You Like It, as performed by Marin Shakespeare.

Corin, Adam and Charles
Among her other good works, Celia established the Arden Home for Aged Shepherds, Servants and Infirm Wrestlers, where Corin and Adam enjoy a happy old age and Charles recovers from his concussion.

Phoebe and Silvius
Phoebe has grown plump and content as a tavern owner, and Silvius has come into his own as the mayor of Arden, appointed by Rosalind to replace Corin on his retirement. They have five children, and none of them are ill-favored.

Amiens
The musician single-handedly began an early modern London Invasion with his super group, The Weasel and The Warblers.Their album, “We Suck Eggs,” went platinum.

Touchstone and Audrey
Jaques tells them their honeymoon cruise has only a two months’ supply of necessities, and that proves to be the case. By Thanksgiving, Audrey is tired of Touchstone finding yet more ways to rhyme “Audrey” with “tawdry,” and leaves him to return to her goats. He is surprisingly hurt, especially when she becomes a brilliant success with her line of artisanal chevre. Touchstone receives a free pound of the best-selling variety she calls “Le Bouffon” every year and hasn’t been able to eat it yet without choking.

Celia and Oliver
Celia, as indicated above, grows into her aristocratic role as a compassionate junior duchess, doing good works where she can. Oliver spent several months outside the court with Duke Frederick and the religious man, completing his spiritual conversion, but by the end of the year, returned with his wife to court where he serves Orlando and Rosalind’s administration well. He is a far shrewder politician than Orlando, and becomes the duchy’s wily secretary of state and spymaster. The marriage between Celia and Oliver produces 2 children, and is companionable and sweet, but untraditional. Oliver has a long-standing dalliance with M. LeBeau, and Celia finds happiness with Charles, whom she learned to love on a visit to the Arden Home.

Orlando and Rosalind
Well suited for each other and their duchy, the two replaced the good Duke Senior when he dies suddenly from a bad case of pneumonia. Orlando is a natural diplomat and leader of men; Rosalind works behind the scenes with her brother-in-law to design economic and political schemes that keep the duchy prosperous and peaceful. They have 3 children. “Galloping Verses,” a slim volume of Orlando’s love poetry, was a succes d’estime when published anonymously. Touchstone, an impresario of edgy popular culture, turned it into a graphic adventure novel, “Hanged On Trees,” and it became a European sensation. One of Rosalind’s favorite projects is “Ganymede’s School for Young Gentlemen and Gentlewomen,” an academy that provides education in courtly manners, science and culture to youth. LeBeau is a favorite though demanding instructor in the courtly arts.

The duchy maintains a cottage in Arden and the whole family, brothers, wives, lovers and cousins, return every summer, and live together, happily ever after.