The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1145 Monday, 16 November 1998.
Date: Friday, 13 Nov 1998 13:46:05 -0500
Subject: Kamholtz's All's Well
It is a critical commonplace that Lavatch in <italic>All's Well That
Ends Well </italic>is not funny. But last weekend, at Jon Kamholtz's
production of the play, I learned that Lavatch on the page is different
from Lavatch on the stage, or, at least, on the stage at Wilson
Auditorium at the University of Cincinnati, and play by Randall T.
Sullivan. Sullivan played a boyish, pert, lively clown with a limited
range of facial expression, his pout perhaps being most memorable, and
he was immediately an audience favorite. Sullivan's short physical
stature added to his boyishness and to the comedy, and he got the
laughs. Kamholtz admitted to me after the short run (November 5-7,
1998) that he had considered cutting Lavatch as inessential, but that
Sullivan had taken the role and proven how essential it is, or how
essential it was to this production.
Lavatch's boyishness reflected the boyishness of Scott Ticen's tall,
gawky Bertram (who reminded me of my seventeen year old son). Ticen was
totally convincing as a socially inept young courtier, who feels much
more at home with the boys than he does with the young woman who is
actively courting him. Helena (played by Carrie Adams) was rather
matronly and mature, compared to Bertram, and Adams took a rather
motherly approach to the role. In the last scene, she entered obviously
very pregnant (or stuffed with pillows?). In any case, the implicit
sexually of her curing the king was played down. Matthew McLean (the
king) told me that the production had not explored the possibility that
Helena had lain with the king in order to cure him, an interpretation
hinted at by Lafew and effectively used in some productions to explain
why the king must find Helena a husband. In this production, the king,
bald, spent his first scenes in a wheel chair. (I suppose the baldness
suggested that his disease was venereal.) By the last scene, he has
"grown" long hair, and is obviously cured.
Dominic Bogart's Paroles-with-dreadlocks seemed to grow into his role,
and to become more convincing as his costume became more outlandish.
This is not to denigrate Bogart's performance, which was quite
excellent. His nemesis, Lafew, was played by Tim Minger as a
middle-management executive, with a precise beard, and a black briefcase
from which he could work at odd moments in the action. The two
characters were neatly contrasted in this production.
The Widow (Jo Tyler) and her friend Mariana (Alysson Beck who also plays
the extra-textual Maudlin in the last scene) were the merry tipplers
with Diana (Gina Ramsden) as the sober daughter. One audience member,
himself an actor, pointed out to me that this group was slow in
responding to their cues. Jo Tyler's Widow was wonderfully disconcerting
in her inappropriate expressions and gestures.
Fanny Silverman played the stiff-legged Countess, who walked with a
cane, and who was every inch an aristocrat from southern France.
This was an impressive production that played to packed houses. Too bad
it was scheduled for only one weekend.
Yours, Bill Godshalk