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All's Well That Ends Well

Plot Summary

Helen, orphaned daughter of a doctor, is under the protection of the widowed Countess of Rossillion. In love with Bertram, the countess' son, Helen follows him to court, where she cures the sick French king of an apparently fatal illness. The king rewards her by offering her the husband of her choice. She names Bertram; he resists. When forced by the king to marry her, he refuses to sleep with her and, accompanied by the braggart Parolles, leaves for the Italian wars. He says that he will only accept Helen if she obtains a ring from his finger and becomes pregnant with his child. She goes to Italy disguised as a pilgrim and suggests a 'bed trick' whereby she will take the place of Diana, a widow's daughter whom Bertram is trying to seduce. A 'kidnapping trick' humiliates the boastful Parolles, whilst the bed trick enables Helen to fulfil Bertram's conditions, leaving him no option but to marry her, to his mother's delight.

RSC Staging History 1960-2007

1967 RST/1968 Aldwych: John Barton
Timothy O'Brien (design); John Bradley (lighting); Derek Oldfield (music)

Estelle Kohler (Helena), Ian Richardson (Bertram), Catherine Lacey (Countess of Rossillion), Sebastian Shaw (King of France), Clive Swift (Parolles), Ian Hogg (Lavatch), Helen Mirren (Diana), Brewster Mason (Lord Lafew), Natalie Kent (Mariana), Daniel Moynihan (Dumaine), Edward Cicciarelli (Duke of Florence), Elizabeth Spriggs (An Old Widow), Patrick O'Connell (Morgan), Hector Ross (Rinaldo)

1981 RST/1982 Barbican/1983 New York: Trevor Nunn
John Gunter (set), Lindy Hemming (costumes); Robert Bryan (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)

Harriet Walter (Helena), Mike Gwilym/Philip Franks (Bertram), Peggy Ashcroft/Margaret Tyzack (Countess of Rossillion), John Franklin-Robbins (King of France), Stephen Moore (Parolles), Geoffrey Hutchings (Lavatch), Cheryl Campbell/Deirdra Morris (Diana), Robert Eddison (Lord Lafew), Julia Swift (Mariana), Julietta Mole (Violenta), John McAndrew (Bertram's Servant), Peter Land (Dumaine), Philip Franks/Simon Templeman (Dumaine), John Rogan (Duke of Florence) Griffith Jones/George Raistrick (A Gentleman), Gillian Webb (An Old Widow), Roger Allam (Morgan), Graham Turner, Nigel Le Vaillant, Peter Chelsom (Suitors/Soldiers), Julia Hills, Diana Hardcastle, Leonie Mellinger, Elizabeth Rider (Maids)

1989 RST/1990 Barbican: Barry Kyle
Chris Dyer (design); Michael Calf (lighting); Jeremy Sams (music)

Patricia Kerrigan (Helena), Paul Venables (Bertram), Gwen Watford (Countess of Rossillion), Hugh Ross (King of France), Bruce Alexander (Parolles), Geoffrey Freshwater (Lavatch), Suzan Sylvester (Diana), Clifford Rose (Lord Lafew), Judith Brydon (Mariana), Jane Gwilliams (Violenta), Maxwell Hutcheon (Bertram's Servant), Howard Ward (Dumaine), Rob Edwards (Dumaine), Michael Cadman (Duke of Florence/A Gentleman Astringer), Helen Blatch (An Old Widow), Jason Flemyng, Daniel Ryan, Steven Waddington (Lords)

1992 Swan/1993 Pit: Peter Hall
John Gunter (design); Rick Fisher (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)

Sophie Thompson (Helena), Toby Stephens (Bertram), Barbara Jefford (Countess of Rossillion), Richard Johnson (King of France), Michael Siberry (Parolles), Anthony O'Donnell (Lavatch), Rebecca Saire (Diana), Alfred Burke (Lord Lafew), Emily Raymond (Mariana), Emily Watson (Violenta), Jack Waters (Bertram's Servant/Ward), Adrian Lukis (Dumaine), Dominic Mafham (Dumaine), Colin Starkey (Duke of Florence), Griffith Jones (A Gentleman Astringer), Andrée Evans (An Old Widow), Ciaran McIntyre (First Soldier), Geoffrey Abbott (Ward/Second Soldier), Dorian MacDonald (Ward)

2003-04 Swan/2004 Gielgud: Gregory Doran
Stephen Brimson Lewis (set), Deirdre Clancy (costumes); Paul Pyant (lighting); Paul Englishby (music)

Claudie Blakley (Helena), Jamie Glover (Bertram), Judi Dench (Countess of Rossillion), Gary Waldhorn (King of France), Guy Henry (Parolles), Mark Lambert (Lavatch), Shelley Conn (Diana), Charles Kay (Lord Lafew), Aimee Cowen (Mariana), Sarah Jane Wolverson (Violenta), Miles Richardson (Dumaine), Oliver Senton (Dumaine), Arthur Kohn (Rynaldo), Colm Gormley (A Gentleman Astringer), Jane Maud (An Old Widow), Tim Delap (Soldier), Chris Geere (Soldier), Brendan O'Hea (Morgan)