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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 18, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 03
All's Well That Ends Well demonstrates that emotions stay the same through time
Arts & Entertainment
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All's Well That Ends Well demonstrates that emotions stay the same through time

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
SEATTLE SHAKESPEARE COMPANY
Through February 3


Let's suppose that you're a young man who has grown up with a girl sort-of forced into your family by the death of her folks, and just because she's saved someone's life, she gets to choose you as her husband when you have no interest in her! Well, you just wouldn't do that, would you?

That's the essential dilemma facing Bertram (Conner Brady Neddersen) in All's Well That Ends Well, the latest Shakespearian production at Seattle Shakespeare Company. The title is very familiar and you might think you know the story. It's one of the 'lesser' plays and Shakes has gathered a strong cast of veteran players to bring it to life, including Shakespearian stalwart Michael Winters as the King, R. Hamilton Wright as Lord Lafew, and Suzanne Bouchard as the stately Countess.

It's one of the comedies because all does turn out well in the end, but the process is a bit on the brutal side. The young woman in question, Helena (Keiko Green), decides to follow Bertram as he decides to go off to war, rather than marry her. Today, we might wish she wouldn't choose that, but young people in love often choose paths that might be a bit dangerous to their self-esteems. Have you ever tried to talk a young teen or twenty out of something they're hell-bent on?

Bertram has announced that he'll only consummate their marriage if a certain ring is given to him that he thinks is impossible and if Helena becomes pregnant with his child, which he also thinks is impossible - because it's only possible if they have sex first. Having declared all that and left town, he feels free to romance women wherever his fancy leads.

Eventually, it leads to a young woman, Diana (Ayo Tushinde), who gets a lot of pressure to become his 'love'. After Helena figures that out and counsels Diana what to do, Diana gets Bertram to give up his ring to her, and then Helena, in the dark, leads him off to bed him while he thinks it's Diana. It's pretty clear how the 'end well' process will be accomplished, after that.

The technical support on this production is top-notch, from the set of irregular pillars and doorways by Carol Wolfe Clay, to the pinpoint lighting of Andrew D. Smith, the sounds of Johanna Melamed and the utilitarian quasi-military army costuming and flowy women's wear by K.D. Shill. Director Victor Pappas created a fairly straight-forward production, not choosing embellishments, but trimming small bits of dialogue that might make a modern audience stumble.

The play includes a buffoon role, similar to Malvolio's in Twelfth Night, of Parolles, here amusingly performed by George Mount. Mount starts off strongly humorous, but somehow loses much of the humor towards the end. The main joke about Parolles is that he never really does what he says he's going to, choosing to find a way to wiggle out of his work instead. So a subplot has to do with capturing him and showing his petty ways to his friend Bertram while humiliating Parolles. That part could have been trimmed somewhat more, since it deflects from the main thrust of the play.

Overall though, it's a solid evening's entertainment, and Neddersen's abject contrition at the end finally saves the role of Bertram from total dickdom. What is refreshing about this play is that everyone's emotions are still clearly understandable and as modern in emotional realism as they would be in any more modern play. In that way, it's actually one of Shakespeare's most easily understood plays!

For more information, go to www.seattleshakespeare.org or call 206-733-8222.

Discuss your opinions with SGNCritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters. More articles can be found at MiryamsTheaterMusings.blogspot.com.

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