Off-Broadway Review: ‘All’s Well,’ throughout

Posted: July 14, 2011

William Shakespeare's comedy All's Well that Ends Well is the more-than-usual stretch. It involves a count who, without apparent reason, is turned off by a woman he's later forced to marry and then abandons - and by the end of the play, deeply loves.

But the language is beautiful and in Central Park's Delacorte Theatre these nights, so is the production by the Public Theater, as elegant a Shakespeare as I've seen in some time.

The cast nails it, in an evening of hankering and scheming; the pay sets up two different sting operations, one against a buffoon (Reg Rogers) by his own wartime military unit and the other, more germane to the plot, against a count (André Holland) by his spurned wife (Annie Parisse).

Veteran actor John Cullum gives a richly nuanced performance as the king of France, in whose court the count, his wife and the woman he'd have as a mistress end up to sort things out.

Jane Greenwood's costumes run from formal evenings to wartime, and Tom Kitt's music and Scott Pask's ample set, crowned by an upper-level bridge, accesorize the play with style.

In this instance, the Bard was his own spoiler - as the title reveals it, everything ends well. And the production does well the whole way through.


Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727 or hshapiro@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/howardshapiro. Follow him on Twitter at #philastage. Hear his reviews at the Classical Network, www.wwfm.org.

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