Notes on Old Dog Part One: Orlando and Adam
Zounds, Alack, and By My Troth goes into the woods again, (you have to every now and then) for another trip down As You Like It way. I’ve always maintained that As You Like It was a play that was unlikely to feature in Zounds all that much, but with a guest spot here and there, it’s ended up being quite ubiquitous this year. I think it’s a play that has a great sense of a world that extends beyond the boundaries of the story, which is why the minor supporting characters appeal to me so much. What exactly does Sir Oliver Martext get up to outside of his spit and cough?
Which brings me to Adam, Orlando’s faithful aged manservant. He saves his young master from certain fratricide, serves him loyally through times of adversity, then inexplicably drops out of the story altogether after Act 2, Scene 7. There are 12 subsequent scenes. His fate remains a mystery.
Where does Adam go? Why is he not at the wedding of the boy he is so devoted to? Is Jaques reciting his famous soliloquy immediately prior to Adam’s last entrance Shakespeare’s subtle way of pointing out that the old boy is not long for this world? And if so, why doesn’t Orlando seem to care? These are questions never to be answered. Like Duke Frederick’s sudden conversion or Audrey and William’s courtship, it is a story that spills off the page, and possibly involves a scene where Adam returns to his own planet…