Seattle Shakespeare has taken on the daunting task of William Shakespeare’s play, All’s Well That Ends Well. It’s sometimes labeled as a “problem play” and it is an awkward story. But all’s well that ends well!
Helena is an orphan living with the Countess of Rossillion and her son Bertram. Helena loves Bertram secretly. But when Bertram leaves for Paris to attend the king’s court, Helena devises a plan to follow Bertram and cure the dying king. The king is grateful to Helena and grants her request to wed the man of her choice. She, of course, picks Bertram. Bertram is outraged at being forced to marry this woman without his consent and decides to runaway to Italy, where the king is currently at war. He sends Helena a letter in which he tells her that he will not accept her as his wife until she has done two things, has his ring, and conceived his child. Helena follows Bertram to Italy, then things get crazy.
Paul Morgan Stetler and Connor Toms in All's Well That Ends Well. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.
The themes in this play are definitely adult since they deal with marriage, love and sex. There’s a scene at the beginning of the play about why one should keep or lose one’s virginity. There are no sex scenes, however.
Directed by Seattle Shakespeare’s Artistic Director Stephanie Shine, this production interprets the play as being about love. Perhaps passion might have been a more accurate interpretation.
This production interprets Helena as a heroine and Bertram as the one who does her wrong. But it’s not that Helena is a pure and brave hero and what she does is justified by her love. She is so infatuated with Bertram that she does crazy things to get him. Bertram does the same; he gets angry about being forced into marrying Helena and does crazy things. The characters could have been so silly about making these crazy choices that you end up liking them, but at the end of this production, I didn’t really like Bertram or Helena.
One character I did like was Parolles played by Paul Morgan Stetler. Stetler was hilarious. Playing the fool is hard work and his character could have been really unlikable but Stetler did a great job in making sure you cared about the character.
I also thought the performances from Michael Patten as the King of France and Marianne Owen as the Countess of Rossillion were fabulous too.
Although this production falls short, the outstanding performances made it fun to watch. So I guess Shakespeare was right when he said, all’s well that ends well!
June 6th, 2008
All's Well That Ends Well
Seattle Shakespeare Company
Through June 29th
Ticket office: 206-733-8222
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