Shakespeare’s Globe (venue)
17 January 2018 (released)
08 February 2018
Part of Artistic Director Emma Rice’s final season at the Globe, All’s Well That Ends Well feels like an apt choice. The wintry January evening lends itself to the candlelit magic of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, complementing the fairytale, unknowable nature of the play. And the play’s psychological realism is not overshadowed either. In fact it is here that Caroline Byrne’s version shines, mostly thanks to Ellora Torchia’s committed performance as Helena.
All’s Well That Ends Well is often referred to as one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’ - neither comedy nor tragedy. Yet despite this versions’ many merits, the ‘problem’ has still not been answered. The tragedy was well-handled, but the comedy could have been sharper, with more of the comic originality usually expected from the Globe.
However, there are some highly notable performances. Helena is, in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s opinion, Shakespeare’s ‘loveliest’ character. But Ellora Torchia captures so much more than ‘loveliness’. Her incredible depth, her tenacity and her vulnerability are all especially well drawn. Paige Carter also shines as Diana, with an excellent moment to moment performance that is refreshing and captivating.
Colin Richmond’s design is spare but effective. Aware of the power in the simplicity of the candlelight, little else is added save key pieces, serving to give all the more power to these moments. Both he and Director Caroline Byrne seem to work very well together. Memorable visuals such as Helena suspended from the ceiling, the drapes of her dress almost touching the floor, is an arresting and haunting sight. Also the skilful use of the bath. Byrne’s directing is clearly accomplished. Other mentions are for Úna Palliser as Musical Director & Theo Vidgen as Composer, with some warming musical moments.
The play is many things, part comedy part tragedy, it is about love, and war. It is not for everyone, but for aficionados, and for those looking for a magical evening with some arresting sights, it is a must see.