All’s Well That Ends Well
2012: John Dove, Robin Lough
It seems that few people do this play unless they’re setting out to do a complete set of Shakespeare’s plays, and then of course it’s obligatory. This is the entry from the “Shakespeare’s Globe” series, which is apparently releasing, at the rate of a few a year, all of the plays in the corpus.
Like all the productions in this series, it aims at creating something like the original experience. It is staged in the rebuilt Globe theater in London. Sets are minimal, costumes are loosely true to the period, and the acting is pitched at a level that is more appropriate for the stage than for more intimate cinematic productions. Perhaps harder to quantify, but definitely worth noting, is the fact that there is a lively sense of audience engagement. The actors are at some points overtly playing to the audience, and that transforms the experience in a way that is otherwise mostly unexampled on film. There is little else out there to compare with these, and some of the performances are quite electrifying.
This production is no exception. It’s very well acted, minimally cut, and manages to redeem from one of Shakespeare’s darkest and most alienating plays something enlivening and redemptive. The performances are solid across the board, and though the plot necessarily entails some sexual shenanigans, nothing is here, at least visually, that should cause parents or teachers of younger students concern. Janie Dee as the Countess of Rousillon is magnificent, and Sam Crane’s Bertram is suitably despicable, and yet not entirely unsympathetic at all points — a rare achievement in its own terms.
Attendants, Soldiers: Laura Darrall, Nicholas Delvallé, Luke McConnell
Bertram: Sam Crane
Countess of Rousillon: Janie Dee
Diana: Naomi Cranston
Duke of Florence/Rinaldo/Gentleman/Second Soldier: John Cummins
First Lord: Peter Hamilton Dyer
First Soldier: Ben Deery
Helena: Ellie Piercy
King of France: Sam Cox
Lafeu: Michael Bertenshaw
Lavatch: Colin Hurley
Mariana: Mary Doherty
Parolles: James Garnon
Second Lord: Will Featherstone
Widow: Sophie Duval