ll's Well That Ends Well
is my second Globe trip this year, so another illustrated letter to start the review with; I like how, if you look at this one carefully, it's actually a four-poster bed, referencing the famous "bed trick" in the play.
I'm fond of Shakespeare's Globe and they're usually very able to stamp their own personality on plays I've seen before; unfortunately this didn't happen tonight and however much I tried to judge John Dove's production on its own merits, my mind kept coming back to Marianne Elliott's dark fairytale
version which I saw almost exactly two years ago. Dove tries to smooth over the morally dodgy areas of the story that have had it labelled a "Problem Play" and I think that's where we parted company. Helena (Ellie Piercy) is somehow easier to forgive, even though, as the programme reminds us, we mainly hear how great she is from other people; her actual actions are entirely taken up with entrapping a man who doesn't love her. Bertram's trickier though; Sam Crane is really good at making him more sympathetic by turning him into a rather gawky character, and even suggests there actually is
some affection for Helena by carrying her handkerchief throughout. But it does mean his appalling reaction to Diana's arrival at court seems like a huge character change.
And yet I liked a lot of individual performances, including the leads; James Garnon's Parolles is properly funny and his relationship with Michael Bertenshaw's Lafeu is nicely developed over the evening. I enjoyed Lavatch's (Colin Hurley) seemingly genuine dislike for his mistress, and Naomi Cranston's Diana is hugely likeable. But overall I never felt invested in the characters and, unusually for me at the Globe, only laughed intermittently. I get the impression I'm a lone voice of dissent in this but for me, acting as if this isn't a Problem Play has just made the problems appear all the more starkly.All's Well That Ends Well
by William Shakespeare is in repertory until the 21st of August at Shakespeare's Globe.