Notes on Jaques De Boys
Or “What I did on my summer holidays by Horatio, aged too young to have lived through the unspeakable levels of carnage I have witnessed.”
Jaques De Boys, middle brother of Orlando and Oliver, is a funny minor character in Shakespeare – mentioned in passing in the opening dialogue of As You Like It, then popping up at the very end to deus ex machina away the threat of Duke Frederick and welcome the heroes home. That he is mentioned as being at university created the intriguing possibility of him and Horatio as unlikely roommates.
When I first read the play, my initial thought is how unnecessary he seemed – why can’t they just stay in the forest? But there is something wonderful about the news he brings that the villain has simply chosen to give up being evil. It’s the perfect end to a story where everyone is rebelling against their assigned theatrical archetypes – the princess wants to tell dirty jokes, the clown wants to woo a maiden, the outcast ruler finds he rather enjoys being exiled, and a contrary, melancholy fellow would rather be anyone than himself.
Designing Jaques De Boys was a similar process to Hamlet’s father, in that they’ve both been reverse engineered from an existing character. His face shape is quite close to Orlando, and I gave them both similar hairstyles – reasoning that in Orlando’s mind, that’s what an educated man’s hair looks like. Orlando’s weedy facial hair is a bit of a running gag in As You Like It, so I decided to have his brother’s look rub this in – reasoning that all the other De Boys, er, boys have spectacular beards like this, while Orlando can only measure his soul patch every morning in shame…