Category Archive for: ‘David Hirzel’

“All’s Well That Ends (especially) Well” at Marin Shakespeare

Marin Shakespeare has taken on “All’s Well that Ends Well,” one of Shakespeare’s more challenging plays, and pulled it off well.  Deeper than a comedy, funnier than a tragedy, the Bard’s careful look at character and deception has plenty of laughs (especially as served up by James Hiser), and a generous helping of insight into the potential depths of character that (we hope) exist in all of us.  The plot, like many of Shakespeare’s has its unique convolutions that don’t lend themselves readily to synopsis in a brief review like this.  But the language, much of it in rhymed couplets, can soar in unexpected flights.  Suffice it for me to say, the cast and direction here do yeoman work to keep the audience up to speed on the machinations at hand, as female lead Helena (superbly portrayed by newcomer to Marin Shakes, Carla Pauli) deftly plots her way into the  shallow heart of the playboy Bertram (also new here, Adam Magill).

A mesmerizing performance by Jessica Powell alternates between her heartfelt maternal care for the future of her ne’er-do-well son Bertram, and the tender intimacy she shares with her handmaiden Helena, the daughter she wishes were her own. The first half fairly hums along, alternating between laugh-out-loud comedy (Lucas McClure as Lavatch, Hiser’s clowinish Parolles, and Scott Coopwood’s Lafeu) and lovelorn pathos, and the miraculous cure of a perceptibly dying King of France (Jack Powell, another talented and familiar actor).

The second half is even better.  Once the actors really get warmed up, the complex pacing slips into gear, and the show takes off when the scene moves into Florence and the Shakespearean boudoir deceptions are plotted and then executed. Heather Cherry, as a flamboyant Widow of that fair city, fairly owns the stage every second she is on it.  Parolles, at last humbled by his own web of lies, reveals a hidden soul that brought a round of applause from the audience.  And I must confess, the final scene’s emotional outburst by Luisa Frasconi as Diana brought a tear to my eye.  In the end, all these troubled souls come to the understanding that, for all their (and our) weaknesses, there always exists the possibility that “All’s Well That Ends Well.”

Through September 29, 2013.  Box Office:  (415) 499-4488

At:  Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Dominican University of California in San Rafael

Website:  Marin Shakespeare

David Hirzel’s Website:

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