The RSC’s new production of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well has opened at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The play is running in rep in Stratford until 8 October 2022.
All’s Well That Ends Well is directed by Blanche McIntyre, and stars Rosie Sheehy as Helena, Benjamin Westerby as Bertram, Claire Benedict as The Countess, Simon Coates as Lafew, Jamie Wilkes Parolle and Micah Balfour as Older Dumain.
All’s Well That Ends Well is designed by Robert Innes Hopkins, with lighting by Richard Howell, music by D.J. Walde, sound by Gregory Clarke, video by Douglas O’Connell, movement and intimacy by Asha Jennings-Grant and fights by Kate Waters.
"All’s Well That Ends Well with adolescent lust and social-media fever – or does it?"
"Shakespeare’s ‘problem’ play is given a literal glow-up by the RSC in Stratford, but even that update can’t straighten its issues out"
"It’s a shame that the production doesn’t integrate this footage more convincingly into an excavation of the characters’ motivation, especially when it all loses steam after the interval. But what does work well is McIntyre’s treatment of Shakespeare’s language. It’s thoughtfully paced, opening up the verse-heavy rhythms into a readily accessible modern argot. And the ambiguous conclusion is particularly well-judged – belying that assertion that all will indeed end well."
"'Unloved' play just got unlovelier"
"The story is so far from modern protocols around matchmaking that Helena can only strike us as a stalker. Blanche McIntyre's production seizes on this, with a modern production comparing Helena's infatuation to inappropriate fixations on social media today."
"The only character who seems to be having any fun is Jamie Wilkes: a comic revelation as the soldier and braggart Parolles, played here as an American GI channelling Sylvester Stallone's Rambo."
"... this is a show that succeeds only in confirming its suspicions of the play's supposed flaws."
"Moving lead performance"
"Rosie Sheehy lends real heart to Blanche McIntyre’s clamorous production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedy"
"Despite its erraticism as a play, Blanche McIntyre’s contemporary rendering makes a convincing case for why it might resonate with young audiences, particularly with its unusual heroine Helena."
"Benjamin Westerby has a tricky time with Bertram, who, apart from being a callous snob, doesn’t have a great deal to do for much of the play and there’s little sense of him growing in maturity."
"Selfies and memes in a high-energy update"
"Is it possible to make complete sense of this “problem play” for a 21st-century audience? Maybe not, but Blanche McIntyre’s high-energy version has a lot of fun trying, throwing social media frippery into the mix as it charts the seemingly doomed romance between Rosie Sheehy’s obsessive Helena and Benjamin Westerby’s ultra-diffident Bertram."
"Problem play gets a tasty Gen Z makeover"
"Rosie Sheehy dazzles as a woman calling the shots in this feverish production that underlines the play’s curious ambiguities"
"It is perfectly suited to its director, Blanche McIntyre, who has notched up The Winter’s Tale and Measure for Measure in recent years and again proves her knack for navigating the tricky plays."
"Every performance in this fine cast brings energy and conviction to a sometimes unconvincing drama. Sheehy stands apart though, a force to be reckoned with from her obsessive schoolgirl zeal at the start (she appears in uniform) to the pulsating rave party in which she poses as Bertram’s love interest, Diana (Olivia Onyehara)."
"The closing ambiguity is left hanging and takes away from any real romantic resolution. Even McIntyre can’t stop this play from feeling like a tasty meal, half served."
"Shakespeare for the Instagram generation"
"The Bard's dark 'problem play' is turbo-charged in a thrilling new production that takes it hurtling into the 21st century to give it new relevance"
"It has to be the most thoroughly up-to-date presentation of what is regarded as a ‘problem play’ – but which has a wealth of dark comedy lurking just beneath the surface."
"From an uncertain start, the audience ended up roaring with laughter and giving a huge ovation for this perfectly paced production. As one of the streetwise local girls in Florence could easily have said: ‘Problem play? No problema!’"
"Director Blanche McIntyre has had the beginnings of a bright idea in updating the setting to our contemporary world of smartphones and social media; how much more effective it would be if only she had committed to the concept wholeheartedly instead of jettisoning it after an initial flourish."
"There is some dreadful verse-speaking across the company and too many passages where one senses that the audience is entirely bewildered."