Welcome to the Forest of Arden!
Spoiler Alert! Do not read on if you want to be surprised!
One of William Shakespeare’s most beloved plays, As You Like It disrupts the traditional rules of romance and literature. Politics, gender roles, and social mores are subverted in this delightful romp through the enchanting Forest of Arden.
Duke Senior has been forced into exile from the court by the usurping Duke Frederick. He takes refuge in the Forest of Arden with a band of his faithful lords. His daughter Rosalind is kept at court as a companion to her cousin Celia, Frederick’s daughter.
Enter Orlando de Boys, the youngest son of the late Sir Rowland de Boys, who has been kept in poverty by his brother Oliver following their father’s death. Orlando decides to vie for his fortune at Frederick’s court, where he meets Rosalind and the two swiftly fall in love.
The Duke banishes Rosalind, fearing that she is a threat to his rule. Celia, refusing to be parted from her cousin, flees with Rosalind to the Forest of Arden. They disguise themselves – Rosalind as the boy Ganymede and Celia as his sister Aliena – and they persuade their friend Touchstone to accompany them.
Upon hearing of a death threat, Orlando also flees to the Forest of Arden and takes refuge with the exiled Duke. Lovesick, he posts romantic lyrics on trees throughout the Forest and encounters Rosalind disguised as Ganymede. “Ganymede” challenges Orlando to prove the depth of his love for Rosalind by wooing Ganymede as if he were his beloved Rosalind.
Elsewhere in the Forest, love is also blossoming: Oliver, sent into the Forest to hunt down Orlando, has his life saved by his brother. A changed man, he soon falls in love with Aliena/Celia.
Meanwhile, frustrated by the pain of his love for Rosalind, Orlando is unable to continue wooing “Ganymede,” so he promises he will conjure up the real Rosalind and that all lovers of the Forest will be wed.
Excerpted from the Royal Shakespeare Company: rsc.org.uk/as-you-like-it/the-plot