19 May 2009

All's Well that Ends Well
by William Shakespeare

Violenta : Cassie Atkinson
Gentleman Astringer : Jolyon Coy
King of France : Oliver Ford Davies
Diana : Hasina Haque
Interpreter : Robert Hastie
Lavatch : Brendan O'Hea
The Widow : Janet Henfrey
The Countess of Rossillion : Clare Higgins
Parolles : Conleth Hill
2nd Lord Dumaine : Tony Jayawardena
Mariana : Sioned Jones
1st Lord Dumaine : Elliot Levey
Rynaldo : Michael Mears
Bertram : George Rainsford
Helena : Michelle Terry
Lafew : Michael Thomas
Ensemble : Ben Allen
Ensemble : Rob Delaney
Ensemble : Oliver Wilson
Ensemble : Tom Padley
Ensemble : Alex Felton

Director: Marianne Elliott
Designer: Rae Smith

Seen on the first night of preview at the glorious Olivier, so I shall have to remember to come back with pictures after Press Night (when I can steal the bigger ones from the papers). Nobody of note in the audience but interesting bits of productiony type paperwork littering the place & someone (director?) left their notes casually lying around at the end. I managed to stop myself from stealing them and licking them before bedtime.

I had to admire young George Rainsford, leaping onto the stage with such brio and I am proud to say, as a fully paid up, conscientious and enthusiastic member of the forth wall, the audience greeted him with great audible joy and I took a few moments to thrill at the thought that must have put the whole cast at ease to hear such a favourable early reaction.

There were so many lovely things happening tonight. Michael Mears' dual role was an absolute delight and from my vantage point to the side, I found his entire performance (and he did not relax for one moment) in the background one of the little gems of this glittering jewel box of silliness. It's always hard when there are so many lucky actors who get to play everything for laughs around a whole team of actors dealing with the serious matters of regal illness and unrequited love and I suspect some of the balances may change a little. Perhaps I am a little too fresh from the wonderful Matthew Warchus masterclass but I think there might be ways of the serious stuff getting a few more laughs (if indeed, that desirable) if some of the rest of the cast play things more seriously, if you see what I mean.

I found there were a few dead zones but in the most part, it was a good galloping jaunt through this piece. The Lords Dumaine were nicely cast and a treat to see Elliot & Tony so close on the heels of my trip to England People Very Nice.

The set was heavily influenced by Tim Burton and there was a touch of Andromaque with the red petals. The animation with the owl etc was not as wonderfully subtle as Nocturnal and I really don't think the little shadow puppet videos at the end of Act II and we could only really see the images clearly on one of them, from where we were sitting.

I hope they all enjoy this run as it's a long old piece.