Archive for December, 2008

“All’s Well That Ends Well.” San Francisco Free Civic Theatre.

December 12, 2008

One of the things I like about going to plays is that I get to visit places I’ve never been before. And that could be interpreted in two ways: when I watch a play what usually happens is that I enter into a world that is different from the one that I live in. But what it also means is that as I find out about new productions I see plays performed in a surprising variety of interesting spaces. San Francisco Free Civic Theatre provided both experiences last weekend with “All’s Well That Ends Well.” I’d never heard of them until the night before I saw the play. They are, it turns out, sponsored by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, and they put on shows in these hidden little theaters in buildings that are owned by the city. What a great idea!

“All’s Well That Ends Well” is one of Shakespeare’s “problem” plays and, even in the summer festival season, it is not often performed in the Bay Area. I am a big fan of Shakespeare’s plays so it was like an early holiday present to be able to see it in the winter when many other theater companies are doing “The Christmas Carol” and that kind of stuff. This “All’s Well” might also appeal to those who are fans of Tim Burton movies like “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Corpse Bride,” and “Edward Scissorshands.” The make-up and costumes were all very goth, and it seemed to fit the very strange and twisted love story that “All’s Well That Ends Well” is. (And for those who have a hard time following the story, there is a 4-page scene by scene synopsis in the program!)

Amy Boulanger, playing Helena, and Robert Cooper, playing the king were both excellent – there was chemistry between them, and they brought something new to those roles that I’d never seen before. There was real heart and soul in their scenes together. But the rest of the cast were also quite good – this is obviously a labor of love, and they all seemed to be having a good time putting on a show for their community.

And it is, of course, a community that you can still be a part of. This weekend the play is being performed within walking distance of the Castro Muni Station, so it’s very accessible by public transportation. And, as their name says, it really is free: