All’s Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare. The Hithe, 75 Albion Street, Rotherhithe, London SE16. To 6November 2022. William Russell.

Phil Willmott’s East London Playhouse has moved to its new premises and this was one of their two opening productions – it was still in its final stages when I saw it so no stars can be awarded, but rather this is to look at a brave venture to bring theatre to this part of London. The Hithe is custom built and being opposite the Rotherhithe Overground station easily accessed. To stage All’s Well, one of Shakespeare’s more difficult plays, with a cast of six was a daring thing to do. The story of the fairly awful Bertram who resists marrying Helena, a doctor, manages to cure the ailing King of France who arranges she marry Bertram. His mother, the Countess of Rousillon, thinks it a good idea. Bertram does not and goes off to the wars only to have Helena cheat him into sleeping with her maid, when he is fact sleeping with her – there is a lot of carry on with a ring that he has given to the maid which Helena has, of course, acquired. It is a complicated tale with Helena one of Shakespeare’s toughest ladies at its centre – and her would be mother in law the Countess being one of the good roles for senior actresses – Judi Dench played her in a Kenneth Branagh production. It also involves Paroles, who is Bertram’s devious sidekick and a kind of Malvolio figure. Willmott has filleted the play down effectively enough and the interior acting space lit with flickering lamps proved that it can work – there is a large open air space still under construction.

The cast

Miranda Kent: Helena.

Raman Kribi: Bertram.

Vicky Relph: Diana.

Parolles: Luke Lindemann.

The King of France: Ian Macnaughton.

Director: Phil Willmott.

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