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ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL Tom Patterson Theatre/Stratford Festival
By
Jul 29, 2022, 10:37
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Shea.s Performing Arts Center

Stratford Festival
Through October 29
ALLíS WELL THAT ENDS WELL Tom Patterson Theatre/Stratford Festival

Shakespeare is always said to speak to the ages, although many believe his time has passed.
It hasnít and ďAllís Well That Ends WellĒ is a strong example, a comedy with a context far different from the High Elizabethan times in which the playwright flourished.
In the era in which the play was written, Helen (Jessica B. Hill) would have been a subject of ridicule, a chance for the guy playing the part to camp it up.
Today, sheís someone trying to build a career on her fatherís training and skill as a doctor.
Itís possibly another example of the idea that Shakespeare spent time in Italy in those years which canít be accounted for, perhaps time in a place where women were openly educated as doctors and worked in that field, common in the Italian Peninsula of the playwrightís time.
Helenís father worked for the count of Rossillion, father of the current Count Bertram (Jordin Hall).
Sheís is in love with Bertram, who wasnít all that interested, as he heads off to the court of the king of France (Ben Carlson).
The king is dying of a medical problem French doctors canít cure.
Helen can and does.
That means the king offers her whatever she wants and she chooses that jerk Bertram and he agrees after persuasion from the king.
But, after the wedding and before consummation, Bertram races off to the wars in Italy to learn to be a soldier.
Heís accompanied by the fop Parolles (Rylan Wilkie) who has a wonderful military uniform in a production filled with fancy uniform and lots of stories about military heroism.
Helen heads back to the South of France and Rossillion, where sheís backed by the widowed countess, Bertramís mother (Seana McKenna).
In Italy, Bertram wonders if he made the right choice, as the war continues with no resolution.
Parolles prances around and never quite seems to get out of the base and into fighting.
Then, two officers, brothers, get suspicious and arrange for a fake kidnapping and torture which reveals Parolles isnít what he claims to be, a hero soldier.
Finally, everyone re-unites with the king.
They discover that Helen has been in Italy and hoodwinked Bertram by arranging to be in his bed when he thinks heís getting it on with a Florentine local.
She arrives with a family ring and pregnant, a condition Bertram had set before he would consummate the marriage, believing it would never happen.
Bertram gives in and they are back together, with the king keeping an eye on them.
Itís entertaining although very long for a Shakespeare comedy, with some strong performances.
Wilkieís Parolles is the highlight of the show.
It should be Helen, but Shakespeare loved a clown.
Hill, McKenna, Michael Blakeís 1st Lord Dumaine and Jon de Leonís 2nd Lord Dumaine, Carlson and Wayne Bestís Lafew make it all work so well.
ďAllís Well That Ends WellĒ was the first comedy played by the festival back in 1953.
With a cast like this and good direction from Scott Wentworth, itís worth seeing, particularly in the confines of the Tom Patterson Theatre.

A.W.

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