Monday, 23 May 2011

Our Man in London: All's Well That Ends Well

All’s Well That Ends Well at The Globe, London

First trip to The Globe of the year and probably not an obvious choice of play to go and see. All’s Well seems to be viewed as one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’, but I am not sure I see the problem in the same way as I am meant to. The problem is meant to be that the main characters are a flawed bunch. While I agree that they are, another problem is the story. Some bits just don’t add up. Why would Diana give that lengthy performance in front of the King of France at the end and end up with being threatened with being thrown in jail? Is Bertram really so dim that he did not realise that the ring he is given was the one worn by Helena? How come he did not realise that the Italian he was in bed with had suddenly developed a French accent?

Putting aside my pedantry for a moment, this was a great performance. The only bad review I could find of it in the London press was from the Daily Telegraph. To me that means it is worth seeing, although worryingly the Daily Mail gave it a good review. I had no idea who any of the actors were in it, even though I should apparently know of Janie Dee who plays the Countess of Rousillon. I always think you are on safe ground with UK actors if you say you have seen them in The Bill or Casualty and move the conversation quickly on.

To me the star of the show was James Garnon’s Parolles. But with such great lines to deliver and playing the buffoon it’s probably hard to mess it up. Ellie Piercy as Helena was also great despite one reviewer calling her dull and drab. I might be biased though because I think I have a crush on her. I did have a bit of a problem with Sam Crane as Bertram. He looks very young and a bit like the Tory Chancellor George Osborne. Plus he was being very rude about the lovely Helena. I was tempted to ask him outside at one point but decided I would see him afterwards.

I feel a bit metrosexual about this next point but think I am going to make it anyway. The costumes were stunning. Usually when I watch Shakespeare acted out in Jacobean costumes, they are par for the course and unremarkable, but there really was something stunning about these ones. I could quite happily prance about in the King of France’s togs but doubt I would make it to the end of my street in one piece.

That’s all for now, I have a train to catch and work to pretend to do. Next up is Merchant of Venice at the revamped RSC theatre in Stratford.

Adieu... from Our Man in London

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