By Charlotte Crawshaw
Thursday 9th May saw the opening of the York International Shakespeare Festival, kicking off with the fantastic performance of ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ at the Friargate Theatre. Director Paul Burbage provided an interesting and modern take on the performance, in the note from Burbage he said ‘with a little fine-tuning, a surprisingly contemporary voice emerges’ which he succeeded with.
Even before the performance began the take on the performance was very interesting, as the players were introduced to the audience as people working on the set. It was really interesting to be able to see all of the players before the performance actually begun. The set itself was minimalist, yet impressive and immersive. The set consisted of two tables, which moved around the stage periodically as the scenes changed. The seating in the theatre draw the members of the audience in, making everyone feel involved in the performance.
Each of the players were incredible in immersing the audience in the narrative, in particular Hannah Parker who played both the Countess and Diana. Parker’s acting was highly immersive, as she played various characters throughout the performance, she remained in character even when the focus of the scene was not on her. Matthew Rutherford’s Parolles was almost equally excellent, inciting laughter from the audience at many given moments, but also inducing sympathy in the later scenes of the play. His ability to switch from an upbeat and cheerful Parolles to one who had lost everything and needed help, whilst still retaining key character ques, was very impressive.
Throughout the performance there were musical elements which were very interesting as well, as the performance began with a song and ended with one too. It was an interesting spin on the performance and retained that uplifting atmosphere. The music was always upbeat and managed to keep things interesting; I noticed this particular through scene changes when a section of music would play to distract the audience from the fact that the scene was changing. Audience participation is something which some people fear, whilst some people love it. There were various aspects throughout the performance where the audience were involved, and luckily this particular audience seemed to really enjoy that aspect of the show. It created a more immersive sense and made everyone feel as though they were actually involved in this story.
All’s Well that Ends Well is still on at the Friargate Theatre until the 19th of May, giving plenty of opportunity for everyone to see it at least once! Get your tickets online here, or drop into the Friargate Theatre to purchase them.
Charlotte will also be reviewing FEAST, a new play about Shakespeare’s Women, for the York International Shakespeare Festival. Complimentary tickets are available from the Friargate Theatre. Call 01904 613000 to book a complimentary seat with the code INTERNATIONAL. There are just 3 performances: Sat 11th 2pm and 5pm, Sun 12th 2pm.
There is cooking on stage and food to share…