Not often performed this is a rather strange play - part morality tale, part folk tale – in which leading lady Helena (Ellie Piercy) miraculously cures a dying king and in return is allowed to choose a husband from his court. She chooses young Count Roussillon who, angered by the forcing of his matrimonial hand and appaulled by her low birth, consents to the marriage but before consummating it flees to join the wars leaving Helena with two impossible conditions to meet before he will agree to be her loving husband. Helena is feisty though and through many a winding story loop and amusingly complex banter proves that love can win out and all is indeed well that ends well.
Following the production – which has a deceptively simple looking set and wonderfully opulent costumes - we were joined by many members of the cast for a really candid and insightful Q&A. Unfortunately Terri Paddock, our Managing and Editorial director who usually chairs these events couldn’t join us last night but Janie Dee who plays Countess of Roussillon to perfection took charge and had the cast asking questions of the audience as well as the other way around!
Colin Hurley who plays a wonderfully straight-faced fool Lavatch spoke of his experiences working at the Globe and the changing shape of productions as they move from strict adherence to Elizabethan rules and try more technical solutions to some of the problems of the space. The cast all talked openly about the sight line and acoustic difficulties of the specific staging of this piece and more generally about performing to an audience that are so present and in the cast of last night, ‘fidgety’. James Garnon who plays another of the comic reliefs of the piece Parolles, shed some light on the historical context of the play and gave us some real insight into the character of Bertram (the male lead) played by ‘Sam Crane who unfortunately couldn’t join us. Garnon argued that Bertram while seeming more a cad than a hero to modern-day audiences is painted as a morality tale hero which Elizabethan audiences would have been more readily prepared for and patient with.
We hope that everyone who joined us left with more insight into the piece and a little something to think about on the way home. Do let us know your thoughts – we look forward to hearing from you. Just email as at [email protected].
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