Shakespeare By The Sea and Happy Endings

By John Farrell

All’s Well that End Well is Shakespeare’s premier entry into the world of sex farce.

Yes, it’s written in iambic pentameter (as one of the players in Shakespeare by the Sea’s premier production, which opened on June 6, points out to another) but that doesn’t disguise the plot: one woman’s (Helena played by Angela Gulner) machinations for sex-licit sex-with the very reluctant Bertram (BJ Allman) and the lengths she would go to to have her way.

Using commedia dell’arte style wagons created by Scenic Designer Aaron Jackson, director Patrick Vest takes the play’s action off stage, with actors behind the audience and in the audience, and the whole play presented with a little tongue-in-cheek. From iambic pentameter to the locale, from courtiers in farthingales mixing with the patrons to a very comically sick king (it takes two men to lift him) instantly cured, it’s never serious, and often–very often– hilarious. This may not be just as the Bard wanted but is very effective.

Cylan Brown plays Parolles, the cowardly but very bragging soldier, with plenty of costume changes as he is dragged, tortured and then married. Mick Simmons, as the afflicted King of France, gets all the play’s first laughs. Kristine Teves (whose dog was part of the cast last year: this year he couldn’t find a part) is a delight as Diana, who plots with Helena to seduce Bertram. Justin Joseph is all over the action as the clown Lavache, throwing himself onto the stage when necessary. Mark Rimer is effective as the courtier Lafeu.

This production features original music by Steve Garbade, sung by Brian Katz and Teves, and is a perfect evening out. The price is right, and if the cast asks for donations, use your purse generously. Be prepared for the changeable weather. Thursday evening it was warm and sunny at 7th and Pacific, but story at Pt. Fermin.

All’s Well that Ends Well will continue through next week and then King John will premier at Pt. Fermin, and play in repertory there before the company goes on tour to 21 other venues, returning home for their final performance August 10.

Admission is free to all performances. Performances are Thursday, June 20, Saturday June 21, Friday, June 28 and Saturday, August 10 at 8 p.m.
Details: (310) 217-7596, sbtsinfo@shakespearebythesea.org
Venue: Pt. Fermin Park bandshell
Location: 807 Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro.

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