You Like It
'Of all Shakespeare's plays, the accurately titled As You Like It is as much set in an earthly realm of possible good as King Lear and Macbeth are set in earthly hells. And of all Shakespeare's comic heroines, Rosalind is the most gifted, as remarkable in her mode as Falstaff and Hamlet are in theirs. Shakespeare has been so subtle and so careful in writing Rosalind's role that we never quite awaken to her uniqueness among his (or all literature's) heroic wits...Shakespeare has some two dozen master-pieces among his 39 plays, and no one would deny As You Like It eminence, though a few (wrongly) consider it the slightest of the masterpieces. If Rosalind cannot please us, then no one in Shakespeare or elsewhere in literature ever will.
I love Falstaff and Hamlet and Cleopatra as dramatic and literary characters but would not want to suddenly encounter them in actuality, yet falling in love with Rosalind always makes me wish that she existed in our sub-literary realm. Edith Evans performed Rosalind before I was old enough to attend, according to one critic, she spoke to the audience as though everyone in it was Orlando, and so captured them all.
A great role, like Rosalind's is a kind of miracle: a universal perspective seems to open out upon us. Shakespeare makes even Falstaff and Hamlet victims, to some degree, of dramatic irony... Rosalind is unique in Shakespeare, perhaps indeed in Western drama, because it is so difficult to achieve a perspective upon her that she herself does not anticipate and share... We forgive her for knowing what matters more than we do, because she has no will to power over us, except to exercise our most humane faculties in appreciating her performance...'
- James Dunn, Director