It was a week for Shakespeare, with Red Kettle’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a tent and the next night in Dungarvan’s excellent cinema, for a piece of history – the first Shakespeare play broadcast from London’s national Theatre via satellite to cinema screens around the world. O joy, o unconfined rapture.
The Dungarvan cinema is state of the art and brings opera as well as theatre to its comfortable auditoria. The camera brought you live into the Olivier Theatre on the South Bank for a rarely seen Shakespeare comedy, All’s Well That Ends Well. Alex Jennings did the introductions as he, incidentally was the lead in the RSC/C$ version of Night’s Dream on DVD.
All’s well tells the complicated plot of Helena, the orphaned daughter of a famous physician, brought up by the Countess Of Rossillion. She wants to marry the Countesses young feckless son and by curing the King Of France of a fistula, gets her choice but Bertram is a snob and while he reluctantly marries, runs away and becomes famous in battles in Italy. The National Theatre told the play as a folktale, not something Shakespeare considered and got a lot of adverse criticism for this and the modern use of wristwatches and nightclubs and bunny girl costumes for a seduction scene.
I loved it, and it was a treat to see household UK actors take on fine acting roles and the Irish actor, Conleth Hill, whom I first saw in the original Stones In Their Pockets, was magnificent as Parolles, a lying cheating cad. Michelle Terry was beautiful as Helena and it was nice to be part of a real piece of significant theatre history.