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National Theatre Live: All's Well That Ends Well (2009)

Helena, orphaned and impoverished follows the countess' son Bertram to court, hoping to win his heart. Bertram, though, has other ideas... Unrequited love and unintended consequences abound... See full summary »


William Shakespeare (play)




Credited cast:
Ben Allen Ben Allen ... Ensemble
Cassie Atkinson Cassie Atkinson ... Violenta
Jolyon Coy ... Gentleman Astringer
Rob Delaney ... Ensemble
Alex Felton Alex Felton ... Ensemble
Oliver Ford Davies ... King of France
Hasina Haque ... Diana
Robert Hastie Robert Hastie ... Interpreter
Janet Henfrey Janet Henfrey ... The Widow
Clare Higgins ... Countess of Rosillion
Conleth Hill ... Parolles
Tony Jayawardena Tony Jayawardena ... 2nd Lord Dumaine
Sioned Jones Sioned Jones ... Mariana
Elliot Levey ... 1st Lord Dumaine
Michael Mears Michael Mears ... Rynaldo


Helena, orphaned and impoverished follows the countess' son Bertram to court, hoping to win his heart. Bertram, though, has other ideas... Unrequited love and unintended consequences abound in one of Shakespeare's most relevant and socially conscious comedies.

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Release Date:

1 October 2009 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

National Theatre Live: All's Well That Ends Well See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

National Theatre See more »
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Did You Know?


This is a stage play, filmed and broadcast live to cinemas across the UK on 1st October 2009. The 'film' was then screened worldwide 'as live' in hundreds more cinemas as part of the National Theatre's NT Live project which aims to do the same for many of theatre's productions. The scheme debuted in July 2009 with Phèdre (2009). See more »

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User Reviews

"No legacy is so rich as honesty"
22 September 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Anybody who has not seen a National Theatre Live production should do so, it's well worth the time and money. Many fascinating, with few misfires in my mind, productions of a mix of classic plays/literatures and new discoveries and a mix of traditional and concept (mostly done tastefully regarding the latter). And accessible, it costs more in the cinema than a film but it's better than spending lots and possibly travelling a long way.

One of the National Theatre Live series' first productions, and the first production of the series of a Shakespeare play, was 'All's Well That Ends Well'. The series did go on to do even better and there are better Shakespeare performances in the series, but this is still a solid and well executed production of a lesser known but worthwhile Shakespeare play. 'All's Well That Ends Well' somewhat unorthodox for Shakespeare and was unorthodox at the time, with its depiction of gender role reversals and how surprisingly realistically cynical it is. It is also one of the most difficult Shakespeare plays to stage and interpret, with it being very psychological and having to bring it out compellingly and realistically, also with some difficult text. It is still very funny, thoughtful and moving by the end, with some memorable quotes and mastery of language.

There is not an awful lot wrong here. Bertram's conversion is to my tastes on the abrupt and rushed side, but this is not entirely the production's fault. That is something that the play suffers from as well, so it would have been something hard to overcome.

It is though a handsome and tasteful looking production, with a sumptuous mix of fairytale and Gothic that fits with the fairytale growing into realism concept beautifully without being blatant. It is photographed with intimacy but also not being too rigid, meaning that we can see details that can be missed when seeing it in a theatre. Shakespeare's mastery of language and complex text comes over very well, with the comedy timed sharply and funny, romance sweet without being cloying and drama poignant. All treated with respect and not like a joke or too seriously.

Marianne Elliott's stage direction keeps things from rambling, being chaotic or simplistic. Always done in good taste, without anything that adds nothing to the drama, works against it or leaves a bad taste in the mouth, a fine job done making the characters compelling, both in character traits and psychologically. Really liked how Helena grew as a character, realistically and that it took time to do, and the characterisation and interaction are done adeptly, not overdoing Parolles' vanity and Bertram's rejection of Helena not being as idiotic were appreciated.

Loved all the performances, with Michelle Terry conveying Helena's shrewish scheming and character growth with nuance and warmth. George Rainsford's boyish and not overly-egotistical Bertram, who also grows over the production (though not as effectively) stands out too. Clare Higgins is a dignified and sometimes stern Countess and Conleth Hill doesn't make Parolles annoying. Hasina Haque is fetching as Diane and Oliver Ford Davies brings restraint yet force to the king.

Summing up, very good though better Shakespeare productions were to follow in the National Theatre Live series. 8/10

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