... Having already read play's like 'The Tempest' which like 'All's well' have been claimed to be Problem plays - and for any one who is unfamiliar with this term this is frequently used to describe a play which seems to neither fall neatly into the genre of tragedy or comedy but perhaphs seems ... Read review
All's Well That Ends Well has generally been considered one of Shakespeare's most ... more
difficult and unpopular plays. Labelled a "Problem Comedy", editors believe that the play was written between 1604 and 1605, and exhibits a darkening of Shakespeare's interest in comedy. The play deals with the complicated relationship between Helena, the daughter of a famous physician, and Bertram, the arrogant son of the Countess of Roussillon. Helena is secretly in love with Bertram, and when she miraculously cures the ailing King, she asks for Bertram's hand in marriage, to which the grateful sovereign happily agrees. Bertram bitterly opposes marriage to Helena, who he regards as a social inferior. After reluctantly agreeing to the marriage, Bertram flees to the wars in Italy with his companion Parolles. What ensues is Helena's increasingly desperate and complex attempts to retrieve her errant husband, which involves various machinations and a piece of mistaken identity and an infamous "bed-trick" which has never fully convinced audiences or critics. More recently critics have been kinder to the play, seeing its cynical disillusionment with romance as reflecting contemporary social and political anxieties about warfare and commerce, and feminist critics have been keen to celebrate Helena as a particularly complex heroine. The play is also fascinated by language, encapsulated in the character of Parolles (or "words"), and his memorable line for which the play is chiefly remembered: "Simply the thing I am / Shall make me live". --Jerry Brotton
'nice happy' ending, Not too many characters generally an easy read
Leaves you doulting wether the [anti]hero really deserves the heroine
"I recently went to see this play at the Guilgud theatre in London's west end. The production was to be done by the RSC and among the actors/actresses was Judi Dench I therefore knew I was in for a good production. Knowing this was coming up I decided to give the play a quick read through before I when to the production (especially as the ticket had been some unmentionable price - well for a student anyway!!). I refereded to the Nortan Shakespeare ..."
Ciao members have rated this review on average: helpful