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The other day, I watched a movie version of As You Like It by the Bard, which was set in Japan (based on the architecture and costume), but seemed to lack any Asian actors, really. Nevertheless, I was much struck by the performance of Kevin Kline as Jaques, the melancholy advisor to the kind Duke in exile. Here is Jaques' monologue from Act II, scene 7:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard*,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

*pard: a leopard or other big cat

The monologue, written in blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter), traces seven stages of life, sometimes called the seven ages of man. This lovely monologue, melancholy though it may be, was summarized in a mere five lines by Robert Conquest, who put it in limerick form. Warning: the limerick includes some crude language. Best not to share it with small kids.

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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 8th, 2008 11:44 am (UTC)
TadMack says: :)
Oh, dear.
After the glorious syllables rolling and resounding... it sort of ...crashes with the limerick.
Aug. 8th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
Re: TadMack says: :)
The limerick is indeed a gross oversimplification. (ba dum bump)
Aug. 8th, 2008 11:54 am (UTC)
TadMack says:
...this is not to say that they don't each have their particular charms!
Aug. 8th, 2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
I think Shakespeare would've approved of that limerick. ;)

You've made me curious about that Asian, but not Asian, version. I don't think I've seen or heard much about it. I have seen this on stage, many times.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 8th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
I heart him too. Whether it's in Sophie's Choice or The Big Chill or A Fish Called Wanda or Dave or In and Out or A Midsummer Night's Dream (although the movie-stealing scene in that was actually Sam Rockwell's performance as Thisbe) or French Kiss or as Jaques. I hear he's starring as Cyrano in an upcoming PBS production of Cyrano de Bergerac. Squee! (Jennifer Garner will be Roxane, and Chris Sarandon is to be de Guiche).
Aug. 8th, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
random commenter
classic, I have never seen that version of As You Like It...but I can imagine Kevin Klein from Midsummer's Nights Dream and think he would be perfect for that role.
Aug. 8th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
Re: welcome random commenter!
Kevin Kline was excellent as Bottom, was he not? He was very good as Jaques, and on the whole, I recommend the movie. (I quibble about part of it, because Rosalind dressed as a boy still looks just like a girl in boy's clothing, and Orlando never notices, unlike the movie version of Twelfth Night where at least Viola cuts her hair in a serious way and dons a moustache.)
Aug. 8th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
Re: welcome random commenter!
a perfect Bottom! lol, that sounds funny. I would love to see that Twelfth Night version if you think they go all out with the cross dressing, I think I have yet to see it done effectively in any version I have seen.
Aug. 9th, 2008 04:57 am (UTC)
Re: welcome random commenter!
I'm not sure I'd say they go all out, but at least it was plausible. The version features Ben Kingsley as Feste, Imogen Stubbs as Viola and Helena Bonham Carter as Olivia.
Aug. 8th, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
I like Kevin Kline too. And the limerick... strains this speech down to its tiniest nugget!

janet (@findings)
Aug. 8th, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
Indeed it does. Not politely, either, yet I (and Sara Lewis Holmes) suspect that Shakespeare would've laughed at the limerick.
Aug. 8th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
Sigh. There's nothing like Shakespeare!
Aug. 9th, 2008 04:57 am (UTC)
'Tis true.
Aug. 9th, 2008 10:40 am (UTC)
The contrast of the original and the limerick was jarring, but fun!
Aug. 10th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
I did try to provide a warning about the limerick, but there's no way to soft-soap it . . .
Aug. 11th, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC)
One of my favorite Shakespeare passages!
I liked the movie...it wasn't outstanding, but it was enjoyable.
Aug. 11th, 2008 08:59 pm (UTC)
Same here.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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