All’s Well That Ends Well: No, not really—Theatre

 The Shakespeare Theatre’s season-opening play, All’s Well that Ends Well, is, save for a few performances, an evening (or afternoon) of mediocrity. Directed by Michael Kahn, William Shakespeare’s play is beautiful to watch (Court Watson, scenic designer, and Robert Perdziola, costume designer) but ultimately not very entertaining or engrossing.

All’s Well is the story of Helena’s (Miriam Silverman) pursuit of Bertram (Tony Roach), Count of Rossillion and the means by which she goes to get and keep him. Or told from the male perspective, it is the story of Bertram and the lengths he goes to escape an unwanted marriage to Helena.

Silverman shines as Helena. Somehow she manages to make what could be a stalkerish part sympathetic. Marsha Mason, in her Shakespeare Theatre debut, is extremely good as the Countess of Rossillion, mother to Bertram and friend to Helena. Ted van Griethuysen turns in another terrific performance as the King of France and Paxton Whitehead as Lafew, friend to the King, is also very good. But for the play to work we have to see some reason why Helena would be so attracted to Bertram and Tony Roach gives us none. His portrayal of Bertram is very bland and he and Helena have zero chemistry. In fact, there is more chemistry between the King and Helena than there is between these two.

So, if Shakespeare’s your thing, go for Marsha Mason, Ted van Griethuysen and most especially Miriam Silverman and bask in the richness of their performances. Or, as the woman sitting behind me said after a scene that will become readily apparent, “it’s better than The Bachelor.”

Shakespeare Theatre Company Lansburgh Theatre 450 7th Street NW, Washington, DC  Runs through 10/24

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