As You Like It was as we liked it – lively, bawdy, and raucous. It is not Shakespeare’s finest play – or so the critics say. But it has some marvelous dialogue. “All the world is a stage…” is the most memorable.
Our hostess had set up a stage on the lawn and put out a hundred or so chairs for guests. But by the time we sat down it had begun to rain. The chairs were wet. A Frenchman gallantly wiped off Elizabeth’s chair. Your editor sat down in a puddle…and the play began…
The rain continued throughout the performance. Some spectators – perhaps those who listened to the weather forecast – came equipped with parkas and anoraks. We had an umbrella, which we held over our heads throughout the performance.
Despite the drippy conditions in the bleachers, a good time was had by all. The English actors who performed the play were real pros. They enlivened the set with music and acrobatics, moving the story forward four centuries, to the days of Peace & Love and strawberry fields forever. We never quite got the connection…but it seemed to work, somehow.
After the play was over, we retired to a stone barn for soup and dessert. There, we met neighbors whom we only see once a year – in August. Among them was a dear Daily Reckoning reader.
“I’m glad I bought gold when I did,” he said. “It was $600 or so at the time. So I made a gain on the gold. But the important thing was that I wasn’t caught in that sell-off in stocks last year.
“What do you think gold is going to do now?”
“Probably, it will go down,” we replied.
“So, you’re selling your gold?”
“No…we’re holding on… It’s too risky to sell it.”
“Of course, that’s the big question,” Elizabeth began on the drive home.
“What’s the big question?”
“About whether the world is just a stage. It’s really a question of free will. About whether we do things because we think them through ourselves, or whether we just play our roles.
“I suppose it’s related to the ‘Great Man’ theory of history…the idea that people actually determine history, rather than play their parts in it…”
“It’s probably like all the great questions…that is, both true and untrue at the same time. I mean, Louis XIV couldn’t have been Louis XIV if there hadn’t been a Louis XIII…and if France hadn’t been the leading country of Europe…and if it hadn’t been the peak of the monarchic age.
“And Rommel couldn’t have led a Blitzkrieg in WWII if the tank hadn’t been invented in WWI…
“In both cases, it appears that Shakespeare was right…that the roles were already there, just waiting for someone to play them…”
“Yes, but I wonder if that is true…or as completely true as it looks. The fellow who took over from Lenin didn’t have to be a monster, did he?”
“I don’t know. If he hadn’t been so ruthless some other guy probably would have purged him out…sent him to the gulag. Once a revolution gets started, the most violent and ruthless groups seem to take over. So, I guess you could say that even there…the role must be played…”
“Does that apply to our personal lives, too? Are we just playing roles? You are pretending to be my husband. I am pretending to be your wife. We are pretending to love each other. Is that all there is to it?”
“No…no…that’s very different…”
“I don’t know…but when I say I love you, it comes out of my soul like smoke from a sacred volcano…”
“What does that mean?”
“I don’t know…I just like the sound of it…”
for The Daily Reckoning Australia