One of the best loved of Shakespeare’s ‘middle comedies’, As You Like It has rarely been out of the theatrical repertoire. Centring on the cross-dressed figure of Rosalind, the play both celebrates and questions the state of being in love. Recent scholarship has, however, located darker currents in the play, which have in turn influenced aspects of the play – its awareness of issues that have been elided in subsequent, simply ‘romantic’ readings. Using an innovative theory of the significance of the Globe’s stage space, Penny Gay examines the play’s presentation of issues of power, sexuality, gender and genre. The famous line, ‘All the world’s a stage’ is an indicator of the play’s striking self-consciousness, a clue to its interest in performance and performativity, and to the radical potential of theatre to destabilize the conventions with which it operates. The book concludes with an analysis of some recent productions which take up these themes.
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