All's Well That Ends Well
by 7 Towers Theatre Company
Jul. 24 - Aug. 03, 2014
Although it’s categorized as one of Shakespeare’s comedies, All’s Well calls into question a number of the genre’s conventions. The unconventional relationship at the play’s center destabilizes the idea of fairytale love and “happily ever after” from its first moments. In addition, a major character undergoes a standard comedic journey of self-discovery, but only after a disturbingly violent and malicious prank that leads to his near-total destruction. All of this happens against the backdrop of a war which the younger characters embrace as an opportunity for glory, but in which they accomplish only deceit and trickery. The challenge of staging All’s Well is thus to create a world in which all of this darkness can not only exist, but where it can it can act as a catalyst for transformation.
For 7 Towers, that world was the Europe of WWI–a world experiencing for the first time the horror of automated weapons, poison gas, and an unprecedented level of death and destruction. Still, nationalistic enthusiasm for “the war to end all wars” reigned supreme, especially early in the conflict. It was not uncommon to hear young men excited to fight where, as Shakespeare’s Bertram imagines, “noble fellows strike.” All’s Well is not an anti-war play. It is a story about realistically flawed characters making the best of an often cruel reality. For me, staging Shakespeare’s disturbing fairy tale amidst the world-altering circumstances of WWI is a reminder of how much war changes things–people, relationships, beliefs, and social standards. At its core, All’s Well is a play about flux. Just as the play’s characters continually discover new perspectives of themselves and their surroundings, our particular use of the Dougherty Arts Center space invites a re-examination of a familiar space, facilitating a very literal change of perspective.
As All’s Well demonstrates, when change it unexpected, it can be violent and painful. The power of the play, however, lies in the moments of grace which characters find in the midst of their transformations. I hope you enjoy the darkly beautiful world we’ve created, and find for yourselves those bright spots amidst the chaos.
1110 Barton Springs Road
Austin, TX, 78704
Tickets $10 - $20 plus service fee at BrownPaperTickets