Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy is all about class differences, and Theatricum’s production brings it into the 21st century without changing a word.
The story of low-born Helena who heals the king and wins the right to marry the man she loves starts out on a high note. But when the man of her choice turns out to be a count above her station, he brutally and ruthlessly rejects her.
Co-directors Ellen Geer and Christopher W. Jones use a simple casting choice to challenge our modern perceptions of wealth, status and class: the aristocrats are all portrayed by actors of color, with Caucasian actors playing the commoners.
“This is a remarkable play that scholars and editors love to fuss about,” says Geer. “Helena is a great female role model who crosses class lines to follow her heart. I hope that our production will add another layer to the fascinating class and gender struggles here, heightening the humanity within the play and forcing us all to re-examine our values – all while we laugh and cry with the characters onstage.”
Willow Geer takes on the role of Helena with Max Lawrence as the elitist Bertram. Earnestine Phillips plays the Countess of Rousillon, Wayne Stribling, Jr. is the King of France, Debi Tinsley is the Old Widow of Florence, Mark Lewis is the cowardly Parolles, Alan Blumenfeld and William Dennis Hunt alternate in the role of the Countess’ old clown, Lavatch, Melora Marshall plays Lafeu and Chelsea Fryer portrays Mariana.
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. All’s Well That Ends Well opens on Saturday, June 21 and continues through Sept. 27, running in repertory with ongoing performances of Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For a complete schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, call (310) 455-3723 or visit www.theatricum.com.