- Shakespeare in Production: “As You Like It”
Cynthia Marshall's edition of As You Like It, presented in conjunction with Michael Hattaway's New Cambridge text, gathers together varied sources of information on the performance history of the play. This volume will be a vital acquisition for students of drama and theater at every level, as well as for teachers, scholars, actors, and directors; it is also a fitting memorial, sadly, for the editor herself.
The general editors rightly stress that the text of a play is only the starting point for the realization of the drama on stage. Marshall offers full notes on stage business, although more indication of her own assessment of the relative value of different pieces of business would have been illuminating. As You Like It is short on plot and long on debate and dialogue. In the theater, a gesture can make a simile come alive. When Rosalind, disguised as Ganymede, tells Orlando that he lives "here in the skirts of the forest, like fringe upon a petticoat" (3.3.282–83), "Lillie Langtry 'put out her hand with a perfectly natural gesture to pick up her own petticoat, and finding none, paused awkwardly for half a second'" (185n). It would have been useful here to have the production's date (1882) in the note rather than just in the list of productions at the beginning of the book. I also regret Hattaway's decision to make Orlando's opening speech in 3.2 into a separate scene, renumbering the rest of 3.2. as 3.3, as this can create communication problems for teachers whose students may use an assortment of editions more conventionally numbered.
The edition provides valuable information about traditions of cutting the text, although again Marshall might have been more expansive about the effect of the cuts she describes. The material on cuts is one of a number of topics which are not easy to locate quickly. It would have been helpful to have an index entry on cutting, directing one to the useful survey of reordered scenes at the beginning of Act 2. A pointer to the important section, "Macready's restorations" (23), would allow students to find speedilyMarshall's incisive summary of Macready's decisions for his 1842 revival at Drury Lane, in which he "cut only passages he anticipated the audience would find offensive and rejected material—including the 'Cuckoo song'—not included in Shakespeare's text" (23). The reader does need a textual reference here, however, because there is no index entry either to the "Cuckoo song" or to Love's Labor's Lost. At 4.1.141, there is a full and lucid note (if one already knows where to look), but the [End Page 344] location of the interpolated song is not quite accurate. It followed the line "'twill fly with the smoke out at the chimney" (l. 132); the subsequent lines in the text up to "breed it like a fool" (l. 141) were cut. The shortfall in the index is not helped by an absence in the Contents of itemized sections for the ninety-three-page introduction. These decisions are presumably not Cynthia Marshall's and may have been dictated by special circumstances, but they do restrict access to fascinating material. The series editors need more awareness of the mental horizons of first-time readers or playgoers, who are surely as vital to this publishing venture as more experienced users. However, the list of promptbooks is very helpful, and the detailed calendar of productions, theaters, and actors is invaluable.
Marshall makes wonderful use of promptbooks for As You Like It. A section somewhat enigmatically entitled "The play settles in" (60–65) points out that the stultifying traditions of production, one of which Nigel Playfair overturned in 1919 when he dispensed with the stuffed deer (in 4.2), derived from "the habit of recycling promptbooks, so that textual cuts and alterations, conceptions of character, and stage business remained consistent over the years. At...