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Thursday, June 12, 2008

All’s Well That Ends Totally Fucked Up

posted by on June 12 at 14:12 PM

My review of Seattle Shakespeare Co.’s All’s Well That Ends Well didn’t fit into the print edition this week, but it’s online now.

I ask you: Has there ever been a more disingenuous marketing campaign in Seattle theater history? (Or a more ill-fitting dress?)


Romantic comedy? Really? “Love’s healing begins in our own hearts”? Really? Way to make me positive the director hasn’t a clue what the play is even about. It reminds me of people who read the stalkerish Sonnet 116 (“Love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds, / Or bends with the remover to remove”—shudder!) at their weddings, just because the word “marriage” appears in it. But the production is worth seeing in spite of itself:

… [Y]ou’ll forget all of this soon enough, because the cast is strong, the comedy is undisguised, and the self-hatred and terror at the play’s center busts right through its cheerful packaging. Sarah Hartlett is perhaps an unlikely choice to play Helena, the lovesick fool who throws herself at a lover (Connor Toms, just okay) with full knowledge of his contempt. She’s a bit too old for such mooning, and her huge, goofy smile—much prized in children’s theater productions—disposes us to suspect Helena’s more tender moments. At the same time, though, Hartlett’s reckless energy powers through the fairy story–inspired illogic, making Helena’s bed-trick schemes seem like loads of fun, even when they’re not quite plausible.

Times and info at our theater search.

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I refuse to see any production that has that clueless of a marketing person...

what a horrid poster.

Posted by michael strangeways | June 12, 2008 2:29 PM

Par for the course with Seattle Shakes. They have the most consistently bland posters in the city.

Posted by Garth | June 12, 2008 2:34 PM

Once again we see that you truly don't like older women having acting careers ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 12, 2008 2:38 PM

Is that a man? Seriously.

Posted by The CHZA | June 12, 2008 2:58 PM

Barfy! Arguably the fugliest cast ever on stage.

Posted by It's Just Audrey | June 12, 2008 3:56 PM

uh, that's NOT called for.

and Audrey, someone who's namelink is linked to fucking lameass Seattlest really shouldn't be pointing fingers at something they consider fugly.

Seattlest is one ugly motherfuckin' website.

Posted by michael strangeways | June 12, 2008 4:26 PM

too quote an awesome film "...that was harsh, Tai."

Posted by Rachael F. | June 12, 2008 4:28 PM

I liked that Harlett's older and...uh...not exactly a seductive nymph. Made things creepier! But they just pretended like that aspect wasn't there.

Plus I left my cap under the seat in the theatre and now they can't find it. So they're pretending like my cap wasn't there, either!

Posted by MvB | June 12, 2008 4:30 PM


Oh, I didn’t want to respond to your petty provocations, but this is worth emphasizing.

All’s Well has a fantastic part for an older woman—the Countess—and Seattle Shakes chose to cast a barely middle-aged woman in that role.

Most of Shakespeare’s female characters are young, however, because the roles were going to young men, and it’s easier to believe a young man is a young woman than to believe he’s both a woman and 20-40 years older than he actually is.

I don’t object to Sarah Hartlett playing Helena because I can’t stand seeing slightly older women on stage. That’s ridiculous. But immature crushes are qualitatively different from mature love, and it’s much easier to forgive Helena for repeatedly throwing herself at a hostile guy if she’s young and silly than if she’s merely a woman. Make her old enough to know better, and you’re blaming her irrational obsessiveness solely on her sex. Would you prefer a production that overemphasizes the play’s sexism to one that attempts to visualize the role as written, even if it excludes some qualified actors? These are tough decisions, and not to be written off with these sorts of baseless accusations.

Posted by annie | June 12, 2008 4:35 PM

There's only one capital letter on the whole flier. I half surprised they didn't call him "bill".

Drop shadow is not OK.

Posted by Dougsf | June 12, 2008 4:47 PM

Holy crap, is that Jean Godden's granddaughter (or possibly great-granddaughter)?

Posted by Crypt-keeper | June 12, 2008 5:30 PM

@11 wins. sadly.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 12, 2008 5:37 PM

I dunno. I think Shakespeare, like sex, follows the pizza analogy. Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good.

Posted by Greg | June 13, 2008 8:53 AM

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