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Alls Well That Ends

Shakespeare Theatre Company's Alls Well That Ends Well simply doesn't work.

That's not to say it isn't enjoyable. A talented cast nails the choreography and excellent music direction. The musical interludes are a sensory feast of bright colors, cheerful antics, strong musical performances, and excellent character development. The costume and artistic directors clearly understood the assignment, designing sets and wardrobe that romanticize 1960s counter culture in cheerful sterilization perfectly suited to the story and production.

The true problem with the production is Shakespeare.

Putting midcentury pop music in conversation with 16th century dramatic prose is discordant, and the play itself becomes a slog to be endured between larger musical productions. Contemporary English lyrics pull the audience out of the cadence of Shakespearean prose, and shatter the continuity and suspension of disbelief. Shakespeare is unquestionably pop culture, and would likely enjoy the spectacle of STC's production company were he alive to see it, but the linguistic shifts are cumbersome and annoying. No matter the talent in stage, it just doesn't work.

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