All’s Well That Ends Well
“That I should love a bright particular star and think to wed it”
SHE lives in the household of a young Count who is out of her league. Her fairy godmother takes the form of a magic remedy, classy enough to cure a King. Would sudden success and fame at Court give her a chance to interest Bertram?
HE is stuck at home with his widowed mother. He has the chance to go to Paris to learn how to be a courtier. For better or for worse, he is relying on his unsuitable friend Parolles to show him what to do. Women are a complete mystery. But there’s this girl Helen who keeps following him around.
All’s Well That Ends Well is a too little seen romantic comedy written by Shakespeare at his peak. Full of great scenes and strong women, it mostly takes place in France, a country and culture we celebrated in York throughout 2014.
Following our sell out success with Twelfth Night at York Theatre Royal Studio in April, and with a completely new cast of characters and performers, those celebrations continued with this Frenched-up YSP show – the 26th Shakespeare play we have tackled.
This production formed part of YSP’s contribution to RSC Open Stages 2013-16.
Photographs by John Saunders.
BERTRAM – Sam Hill
COUNTESS – Helen Wilson
HELEN – Molly Kay
REYNALDO/ASTRINGER – Ian Crossley
LAVATCH/SOLDIER – Bill Laverick
PAROLLES – Jamie Smelt
KING – Paul French
LAFEW – Roger Farrington
FIRST L0RD DUMAINE – John Hoyland
SECOND LORD DUMAINE – Andrew Isherwood
MORGAN – Claire Morley
WIDOW – Carys Evans
DIANA – Sophie Ollivier Tyler
MARIANA – Gaynor Spivey
DIRECTOR – Maurice Crichton
COSTUME DESIGN – Jenny Anderton
SET DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION – Mike Rogers
STAGE MANAGER – Sandrine Enryd Carlsson
DSM – Izzy Carrick
ASM -Charlotte Bennington
SCRIPT SUPPORT – Diana Wyatt
LIGHTING – Liam Pullen
SOUND – Paul Hepworth
PUBLICITY DESIGN – Michael Rosser
SET CONSTRUCTION SUPPORT – Martin Parvin
PHOTOGRAPHY – John Saunders
In the York Press, Charles Hutchinson wrote:
‘Directing a York Shakespeare Project production for the first time, chairman and regular thespian Maurice Crichton says he has learnt that Shakespeare wrote for an uncluttered stage and to engage a lively audience as much as possible.
‘”That is why I set the cast the challenge of performing this play in the round,” he reasons. “I wanted to push them to directly involve you, the audience, as much as possible and to bring movement to every scene.”
‘Wise decision-making indeed. In Friargate’s black-box theatre, your reviewer has experienced end-on productions, traverse productions with the audience split either side; productions with too much scenery or too fussy scene changes.
‘For All’s Well, Crichton and his designer Mike Rogers place the seating on all four sides, plant a French-blue dais in the middle and restrict the stage furniture to pretty much two chairs, but never more than one on stage. A wine glass, a bottle, a table, a clipboard, a klaxon, a case, keep props to the minimum.
‘Thrust to the fore amid such minimalism are the costumes of Jenny Anderton – the best in YSP’s history – that encapsulate each character’s most prominent characteristics like a sketched caricature.
‘Above all, in the year when the Tour de France discovered Yorkshire, Maurice – or Mau-reece as we must now pronounce it – has “Frenched up a a too-little-seen romantic comedy written by Shakespeare at his peak”.
‘It would be too easy a pun to say the show is consequently a tour de farce, because the comedy is multi-faceted, going from the klaxon-horned clowning of Bill Laverack’s Lavatch to the Malvolio-style abusing of Jamie Smelt’s bewigged, scarf-wafting Parolles. His head in a sack, his suffering at the hands of soldiers in their United Nations blue berets is sinister, albeit driven by political satire.
‘Our English stereotyping of the French plays its part too, whether in bursts of cod-French speaking, over-accentuated mock-French accents or Ian Crossley’s mime artist, all of which give a flavour of Guillaume Shakespeare.
‘Amid the French frippery, couture and culture, you can’t pin a precise period on proceedings, but the all-French soundtrack is retro, and while Laverick’s Lavatch and Claire Morley’s modern soldier Morgan are polar extremes, many of the scenes could have been frozen in a Robert Doisneau photograph from the Parisian 1930s.
‘This applies in particular to Sam Hill’s callow young Count, Bertram, the aptly named Paul French’s King and the three strong women that drive the “romantic” shenanigans at the heart of the piece: Helen Wilson’s firm but fair, widowed Countess in black; Sophie Ollivier Tyler’s polka-dotty distraction, Diana; and Molly Kay’s Helen, the girl from the Countess’s household with a crush on a Count out of her league, who in turn needs a crash course on love etiquette.
‘It all rises as pleasingly as a soufflé, while company debutants Hill and Kay are the creme de la creme in Crichton’s Camembert-ripe comic art de triomphe.’