All’s Well That Ends Well

Actors in All's Well That Ends WellBy Frances Marion Givhan

Junior Editor

All is more than well! The collective effort of cast, crew, and director made for a triumphant, sold out run of the Shakespearean comedy All’s Well That Ends Well. Every aspect of the play interacted with the others to create a dynamic show that engaged the audience from the very beginning. “It helped that we had a lot of energetic people who kept driving things forward – actors, director, stage manager, everyone involved,” said actor Ben McKenzie (C’17).Director Chase Brantley (C’15) helped the audience become immersed in the world of theatre with an introduction that encouraged them to boo and hiss at the antagonists, cheer for the heroes, and “ohhhhhhh!” at the skirmish of insults between characters. Everyone was so excited to oblige. This confident intro set the tone for a performance that burst with vibrancy and personality. The set, inspired by the 16th century Ottoman Empire and designed by Mary Morrison (C’15), created a bright space of interaction for the actors. At that point in history, the Ottoman Empire had many similarities to the French court of the original script, reaching the “peak of its political, military, and economic power” (Director’s Notes). However, the younger elites were more interested in their own power, causing the empire’s prowess to decline. The setting was meant to “heighten the mystical, fairy-tale aspect of the script” (Director’s Notes), which it accomplished, especially when combined with the costumes designed by Josie Guevara-Torres (C’15). The actors were decked in colorful outfits that complemented their characters and drew the eyes of the audience, yet did not distract from the action.

The actors themselves embodied their characters with an ease that gave the show life. The bond between them made the characters’ interactions and banter natural, and the comraderie was genuinely felt. Parolles, Helena, and the Countess of Rossilion – played respectively by Robert Walker (C’15), Sarah High (C’15), and Megan Quick (C’15) – were flawless. From the minute Walker entered the stage, his presence contributed to the energy of his scenes, giving his character personality and feeling. His performance contrasted with High’s, who played “Shakespeare’s most modern woman” (Director’s Notes) with beautiful sincerity. All three actors delivered their lines with clear understanding, eloquence, and expression, particularly Quick. The “capture scene,” as the actors referred to it, stood out for its physicality and peak of energy. “We had the license to be as crazy as possible,” said McKenzie, who played one of the soldiers kidnapping Parolles. “We were shouting in gibberish, and it was the most physical scene, so it felt absolutely incredible.” The gibberish was perfect, particularly mastered by Emily Riedlinger (C’18), who also spoke in an accent while her character masqueraded as an interpreter. Her facial expressions and confidence gave the soldiers’ scenes a perfect scene of sassy vengeance. Even without an added accent, though, Shakespeare is not a language that everyone understands and knows how to speak. At moments during the show, actors seemed to say their lines without the freshness of emotion that makes the characters feel real. Whether caused by a lack of confidence or even a tired night, it led to lulls and an imbalance of personality within a few scenes. McKenzie believes, however, that “we kept getting better. Saturday and Sunday night might be the best nights we had.”

Every person involved in the show should feel an immense sense of pride for the show they managed to create. Continue to support the efforts of the theatre department by keeping an eye out for Three by Tennessee, three short plays directed by Quick, Tia Strickland (C’16), and Elise Anderson (C’16), dates to be announced.