ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL: William Shakespeare
RST, Stratford Upon Avon
Runs: 3h 10m, one interval,till 26 September
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 28 07 13
Beautifully created but reveals a dreadful irony.
Nancy Meckler and her team have created a first-rate production – coherent, beautiful to look at and excellent performances all round. There is a strong notion that the women bring sense to this war-torn world; and that the older generation both respect and value the passion of the young and its potential for good. There is a dreadful irony stems from this though; Meckler’s meticulous attention to detail and great directing skill shines an unforgiving spotlight on the play. And the play comes out of it poorly.
It’s not surprising that this particular play is not frequently revived. Despite all the life being breathed into it from this team the plotting feels increasingly clockwork as the story proceeds, and the dramatic and narrative twists and turns seem second-rate. There isn’t a story element that Shakespeare has not used before and better or will use, with much greater effect later. In MEASURE FOR MEASURE, for instance, the ‘bed swap trick’ is weighted with emotional importance; in this play it’s totally predictable. There is action in the play, but we receive it as related rather than dramatically presented in front of us.
From time to time Meckler endeavours to dramatise the hidden story for us; sadly this tends to lengthen what is feeling like a long evening.
Joanna Horton and Alex Waldmann make a splendid young couple (Helena and Bertram), full of youthful vigour – whether they tread the right or wrong path they have an air of naïveté about them which makes them vulnerable and attractive. Charlotte Cornwell is wonderful as the Countess – every cell of her body exudes breeding. Greg Hicks does a fine job of breathing three-dimensional life into the piles-suffering King of France.
Jonathan Slinger is suitably irritating as Parolles and when required very funny too. And particular note should be taken of Natalie Klamar who gives a warm and feisty performance of Diana – a really bright spark in the play’s closing scenes.
Karen Archer – Widow
Cliff Burnett – Rynaldo
Charlotte Cornwell – Countess
Kiza Deen – Violenta/Attendant
Daniel Easton – Soldier/Ward
David Fielder – Lafew
Dave Fishley – Duke Of Florence
Michael Grady-Hall – Soldier Interpreter
Greg Hicks – King Of France
Rosie Hilal – Mariana
Mark Holgate – First Lord Dumaine
Joanna Horton – Helena
Chris Jared – Second Lord Dumaine
Natalie Klamar – Diana
Jonathan Slinger – Parolles
John Stahl – Gentleman Astringer
Samuel Taylor – Soldier/Lord
Nicolas Tennant – Lavatch
Alex Waldmann – Bertram
Director – Nancy Meckler
Designer – Katrina Lindsay
Lighting – Tim Lutkin
Music – Keith Clouston
Sound – Gregory Clarke
Movement – Liz Ranken
Fights – Malcolm Ranson
Video Designer – Maxwell White