All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
All's well that ends well...sure, but does it really end well? Really?
A simple maid with the one remedy for what ails the king, cures him and receives as her reward the hand in marriage of a high-born courtier. The groom-to-be won't submit to wed such a lowly personage, nay! His refusal is seen as base and tarnishes his reputation, so he flees to the wars, for it is through deeds of bravery that he will redeem himself. Slight of hand and high japery set the scene for misunderstandings and tricky ruse de guerre in the realm of romance. Will they or won't they?!
A very fairytale story, that! Shakespeare tries to transform it into something a more realistic, but in the process creates a strange brew of the two.
What never rises above the land of make believe, imo, is that the simple maid ever finds attractive and purposefully pursues the asshole groom-to-be. This portion of All's Well That Ends Well parallels the Lizzy and Darcy struggle from Pride and Prejudice, except that it never quite makes enough to sense to satisfy this reader. Shakespeare fails to bring the couple together in a realistic way. In the end it's a flippant one-liner that switches hate to love. Is this a cop out? A comedy shortcut? Or just poor writing?
Maybe it doesn't really matter, because quite clearly this framework is meant to be a vehicle for the "comedy" strewn about the middle of the play. I used quotations around comedy, because I'm sarcastic like that. While cowardice can be comical, I don't find kidnapping, hostage threats of torture and death, and weaselly traitorous admissions to be hilarious good fun...well, for a little while, maybe. The scene with Parolles drags on and on, and we get it right off the bat, the guy's a coward. Yes, this scene is important for the big reveal at the end, but man does it go on too long.
It's failures like the above that kept me from loving this play like I have others. It's not bad, just not brilliant.
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