Loved it loved it. Have to agree was a collective ensemble success, but disagree George Rainsford's Bertram was too much of a wimp. Marianne Elliott had obviously pushed for a younger, naive quality as a means of justifying Bertram's questionable behaviour and he was also somehow charming, which made him forgivable. The whole evening was fun and vibrant, beautifully staged and wonderfully clear. A fairy tale adventure! - Denver Haye
05 Aug 09
It's good to see Marianne Elliott return to form after a couple of misfires at the National but it has to be admitted that this is a very good production of one of Shakespeare's lesser plays. The romantic jousting between Helena and Bertram is diverting but there are almost no sub-plots. It's also remarkably seually explicit which this production emphasises. (Dame) Clare Higgins, Michelle Terry, Conleth Hill and Oliver Ford Davies are outstanding in an excellent ensemble but George Rainsford is too much of a wimp to be a convincing Bertram. Elliott contrives an ending which emphasises that the title should be punctuated with a question mark.
Once again the National had plenty of empty seats and the only play which appears to be selling out is Phedre, led (unconvincingly) by Helen Mirren. In these difficult times hopefully Nick Hytner will not be forced to follow the West End with populist and celebrity cast productions. - David Baxter
01 Aug 09
Loved the fairy-tale elements which were perfectly stressed by the back-projections. The production just oozes charm with Clare Higgins and Michell Terry particularly in tune with the mood. I've suffered more traditional views of this play and never really been captured (not even by Judy Dench's Countess). But Shakespeare via Mervyn Peake was what was required by me. I was so delighted I bought a programme after seeing the show. - Jeremy Baker
05 Jul 09
An excellent production of a difficult Shakespeare play. The fantasy gothic setting somehow brings out the other-worldliness in this somewhat implausible tale. The verse speaking is excellent, so you get more than on the page, as you should with Shakespeare. Marianne Elliott, the current director-who-can-do-no-wrong, has assembled a spectacularly good company including Michelle Terry (boy, is she going places), George Rainsford (a hugely impressive journey from Chatroom / Citizenship), the ever wonderful Dame-in-waiting Clare Higgins, an on-form Oliver Ford Davies and a fine comic turn (if a touch OTT?) from Conleth Hill. A great contribution to the NT's return to form. - Gareth James
23 Jun 09
Another very enjoyable production in the Travelex £10 season of Alls Well with some fine acting from the whole cast. Loved the back projection on to the set. Well worth going to see. - ILS
26 May 09
Had you not seen this before, you would assume it was not a good play that requires an overblown production. The gothic fairytale design is unhelpful and distracting, and the acting is uneven (though Clare Higgins and Oliver Ford Davies can always be relied upon to turn in a good performance). It's all a bit Les Mis-lite with its effects and annoying music, and any emotional engagement is lost. Marianne Elliot would be better attempting Henry V or similar which would benefit from her sweeping vision, than this smaller, more intimate play. - dgr1
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