All’s Well that Ends Well
David Jones, on leave from the Royal Shakespeare Company, has directed [the play] without flamboyance and with an acute sense of where the play s real strength lies. It is not in the young people, despite all their activity, but in the old ones: King Louis, and above all, the Countess Rousillon, Bertram’s mother. With Tanya Moiseiwitsch as designer, a lovely autumnal scene has been devised. A gardener—Lavache, a muted clown—sweeps dead leaves away from a sundial. He chews on a green leaf. Time is the setting for the appearance of the Countess, who is probably the finest old woman that Shakespeare has created. She is a figure of some majesty. The widow of a great lord, she has lived through her passions and is left with her position. And in the play we see her living through that as well. She grows younger and more free. Helena’s love for Bertram strikes her at first as a revolution, but she sees that new life must replenish old power, and she embraces her daughter-in-law long before Bertram does. She is acted by the finest performer to be seen so far at the festival. Margaret Tyzack, a British actress who has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and on television, plays old age as if it were a higher form of life. She can be motionless and still move. When she questions Helena about her feelings for Bertram she begins with severity. She is trying to find out the truth, and she is trying to work out what the truth will do to her. Suddenly we know: the two lips have been compressed in a straight line; the upper lip draws in almost imperceptibly, and the grimness is flooded by compassion. William Hutt, the Stratford veteran, is an intelligent actor, perhaps rather than a great one.
KeywordsMasterly Performance Intelligent Actor Dead Leave Black Element Rich Meal
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