Clare Myers, Contributing Writer
All is well this week with the University of Dallas drama department, as both cast members and audiences applaud the fall mainstage production of William Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well.”
The play, which opened last Wednesday night, centers on the predicament of the young orphan Helen, who falls in love with Bertram, Count of Rossillion, but cannot hope to marry him due to her lower class status. Though Helen is allowed to marry Bertram after healing the king of a rare ailment, he rejects his new wife and joins the army with his scheming friend Parolles. The storyline follows the complications and intrigues that ensue, such as when Diana, the young daughter of a widow, attracts Bertram’s attentions.
The show is directed by the Chair of Drama, Kyle Lemieux, and features many of the department’s regulars. Deborah Corpening and James McGregor, both striking in the intensity of their roles, star as Helen and Bertram. Newcomer Gregory Frisby hams it up as Parolles, and perhaps intentionally overplays the role. If so, he achieves the desired effect, providing comic relief in a complex play. Skyler Patton as the Countess of Rossillion delivers the solid performance audiences have come to expect from the veteran actress, and Annie Zwerneman once again proves herself skillful in the role of wide-eyed innocent.
“All’s Well That Ends Well” has been deemed one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays;” that is, it defies classification as a typical Shakespearean comedy or tragedy, and according to Corpening, the cast is “now intimately aware of why.”
“This show has definitely been a challenge,” she said, crediting the bonds between the cast members and the hard work they have put into the production for the show’s success.
The complexity of the play itself certainly threw off the audience at times. Many expressed confusion at the character of Lavatch, the knave, played by Seamus Young, whose role was somewhat unclear.
“After watching UD’s production I was thoroughly confused about the knave’s role,” junior Anthony Kersting said, recalling a scene in which Lavatch and the Countess act out various scenarios that might occur at court. “This may have been an unfortunately unsuccessful attempt at slapstick, but it left [me] wondering how … the character himself fits into the grand scheme of the play,” he said.
Senior Ivanna Bond said that she would like to do some background research on the play in order to understand it better.
Overall, however, the reaction to the production was affirmative.
“I thought the production was very well done,” Bond said. “I found the acting and the staging to be superb.”
Corpening pointed to the oft-overlooked efforts of the crew backstage as factors in the audience’s positive reception.
“Naturally this production could not have happened without the gorgeous costume design of Susie Cox, brilliant set and light design of Will Turbyne, beautiful sound design of [student] Evyan Melendez, and wonderful directing by Kyle Lemieux,” she said.
The drama department will continue to put on performances at the Margaret Jonsson Theater on campus this Tuesday, Nov. 12 through Saturday, with shows at 8 p.m. each night. In this news writer’s humble opinion, although prospective audience members may want to familiarize themselves with the play beforehand, the play is well worth it.