Sunday, October 13, 2013

All's Well that Ends Well

Benjamin Curns as Parolles in All's Well That Ends Well. Photo by Pat Jarrett.

I am a big fan of Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well. I realize many people don't like the play, ostensibly because Bertram is, for lack of a better term, kind of a dick (and then the moralists don't like Helena and Diana's bed trick/rapey thing). I think, however, that Dylan Paul plays him perfectly-- he plays him, in my mind, like a typically fickle, self-absorbed, self-aware coming-of-age young man who cares more about his reputation and societal standing than anything else. Of course, with Helena being played by the beautiful and talented Tracie Thomason, you sometimes want to smack Bertram and ask "what are you thinking, that girl's hot- who cares if she's not titled?!?" a sentiment that John Harrell's King of France essentially expresses. Thomason, who is clearly in "the zone" this season, turns in another masterful performance as a love-sick, but much more mature and wiser (than Bertram or Juliet) girl.

Tracie Thomason as Helena in All's Well That Ends Well. Photo by Pat Jarrett.
All's Well, in my mind, is one of the funnier comedies. Harrell is brilliant as the King, and his interpretation of the King's suffering from an anal fistula is priceless. I snicker every time he attempts to sit. Greg Phelps kills it as Lavatch the clown, making his idiocy seem exceedingly sharp. Benjamin Curns' Parolles is exceptional and is his best performance of the season thus far. Curns brings a great deal of physical comedy to this role--from his attempts to break free from the stockade to his huffing and puffing while on march. Curns, known mostly for leading-man roles, is an exceptionally talented comedic actor- this performance ranks right up there with his Face and Sir Toby Belch. Another great comedic turn is given by Rene Thornton, Jr. as Lafew. He and Curns have several comedic run-ins with Lafew always besting the blow-hard Parolles.

This production runs longer than most of Shakespeare's comedies, probably because it has a couple of musical numbers included (and this production has some excellent music). Ralph Alan Cohen directed this production and rang all the humor out of it. This production is probably the best interpretation of one of Shakespeare's comedies that I have seen at the Blackfriars since the 2010 Ren Season Twelfth Night. I highly recommend seeing it before the season ends (and you don't have much time!)