Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Nicely staged, well-acted and superbly costumed adaptation of this Shakespeare classic.
Evocative 1940’s jazz is playing as we enter the sumptuously appointed lower theatre in theSpaceUK’s Niddry Street. Couples, immaculate in their finery, dance cheek-to-cheek. Tempting though it is to grab the hand of the nearest lady and foxtrot my way to a seat, I content myself with humming along to one of the many Glenn Miller tunes that feature as stings throughout this thoroughly enjoyable adaptation of one of the Bard’s most lively of comedies.
We’re in an English country garden, judging by the flora and fauna clad arches that occupy up-stage left and right. That we’re also likely to be the in presence of royalty is evident from the pair of centrally sited, well-appointed chairs.
Cue a nicely paced, well-acted and exquisitely costumed hour of pure Shakespeare. All’s Well That Ends Well is a story of a one-sided romance, with Helen, the orphaned daughter of a doctor under the protection of the widowed Countess of Rossillion, seemingly thwarted in her pursuit of Bertram(the Countess’s son) by his repeated rejections. As ever with Shakespeare’s comedies, there’s a flurry of comings and goings, plenty of plotting (in a nice, love struck way) and a jolly happy ending when all the parties meet on stage, join hands and live happily ever after.
There was much to admire in this sixteen-handed piece. Apart from the very skilful editing and staging by Elizabeth Lattimore and Sarah Dowd and the uniformly strong acting (with due credit to the outstanding Lucy Hanneghan as the histrionic Countess), there were the costumes – again, credit Lattimore and Dowd. These were these expertly tailored and each showed such fine attention to detail, creating the atmosphere of 1940’s war-time in which the piece is set. Even the “bit” parts were exquisitely attired, which gave this production a professional polish more often associated with bigger-budget, main stage theatre.
Sharp scene changes made full use of the numerous exits and little music stings cleverly signposted changes of location and time. And, in another demonstration of attention to detail, hair-cuts were in true 1940’s military style for the gentlemen and those modelled by the ladies told you exactly where on the social pecking order they sat.
YAT is a theatre company run by volunteers that offers opportunities for young people aged between 16 and 25 to perform and to enhance their theatrical knowledge free of charge. Judging by the sixteen well-drilled young actors parading before us today, they have more than achieved their objective with this skilfully staged, well-paced adaptation. What a pity it’s only on for a week – try and get along to their last performance on 22nd August.