ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
Helena, a young woman of humble origins, cures the King of France of an ulcer. In gratitude, the King offers Helena her choice of royal husband. The man of Helena's dreams is Bertram, son of her guardian, the Countess of Rossillion. Despite Bertram's objections, the King insists on their marriage. Immediately after the wedding, Bertram joins the army and flees to Italy to fight. He writes to Helena saying he will never be her husband unless she can get pregnant with his child - which will never happen. But Helena is made of tough stuff and determines to succeed.
This play has it all - love, betrayal, sex, loss, reconciliation and forgiveness. And quite lot of laughs along the way.
In this production Oli Sprasci played the King of France following a cast member wthdrawing themsleves in the last week prior to the production.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
Directed by: Jacky Hilary
Production Date: July 2011
Staged: Oakmeads School, Burgess Hill
BHTC Production Number: 268
Trudy Stewart, Pauline Childs, Jacky Hilary, Carolyn Chinn
Rosalind Wood with the assistance of Club Members
Jane Harding, Naomi Jerrey, Anita Wood & Marrie Stewart
Assistant Director & Stage Manager
Lighting & Sound
Poster & Programme Design
Box Office & Front of House
Review by Elizabeth Batten
ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL – WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Sunday, 10th July 2011 Oakmeeds Community College, Burgess Hill
Burgess Hill Theatre Club’s production was a moveable feast, in that it was planned as an outside performance. Unfortunately, some 30 minutes before, a black cloud produced a shower of heavy rain and threatened more. The decision was made to play the piece inside the hall. I do not know whether it rained or not as I became so engrossed in the play.
This is not the most popular of Shakespeare’s plays as – in my opinion – it is a strange story with an unsympathetic hero. Bertram, ably played by David Peake, registered well his complete indifference to Helena, initially refusing to marry her and subsequently preferring to go to war in the company of his ‘mates’. Helena, so in love with Bertram, pursues him to the end. Emily Benyon showed Helena’s firm, but gentle, resolve to ‘get her man’ and, in the end, he cannot resist her, hence “All’s well…” It is their journey to this happy ending, and the people that get involved, that
is the play.
One of Bertram’s mates, Parolles, has entirely his own agenda. Des Fitzpatrick demonstrated the man’s self-interest and duplicity, showing his understanding of the text and conveying it to us. Andrew Squires was a delight as the Clown, bringing to life the character of Lavatch, as a professional entertainer using his skills on us as well as his employer, the Countess. The latter was played with a firm but sympathetic
touch by Beth Hopkins, ably portraying of the dilemma any mother would be in, when more in touch with her prospective daughter-in-law than her own son. She cannot understand his actions and calls him “unworthy”. The King of France, read in by Oli Sparasci, at very short notice, had a big part of the story. It was a pity Oli did not have more time, so he could be judged as the good actor we know he is. However, he made a good stab at it and he established his authority as a King with whom you did not argue, unless, of course, you looked like Emily’s Helena.
Cherry Woodhouse (Widow); Karen Hughes (Steward to the Countess); Luke Ofield (First Lord); Daisy Hook (Second Lord); Niall Conlan (Third Lord/First Soldier); Georgia Jerrey (Mariana/Gentlewoman) all understood that Shakespeare never writes an unnecessary part. The weaving of entwined stories means each character is essential to the whole and each person playing them must, and did, make the audience understand their part of the story and be grateful for it. Only two characters remain, the first being Samantha Payne’s Diana who played a tricky part, explaining her role in the ‘trickery’ after a complex semantic word-play on her actions. Lafeu, played by Richard Light, threaded his way through the whole play, commenting, devising, joking, stirring, exploding and smiling, with an innocent expression and a homely trot belying his intelligence and wisdom. This man they all underestimated.
Jacky Hilary’s production made you forget your disappointment at not being outside and gave clear respect for the text, telling the story that you could hear and see, with actors that had been well schooled in understanding their lines whilst “not bumping into the furniture”. The music, with Tom Wood on Trumpet and Drum, enhanced the piece, not drowning out the voices as so often happens nowadays. This difficult play was well directed and was kept moving, in more ways than one. ‘Twas well done!
Photos courtesy of Sue Gooding & Peter Gooding