All’s Well That Ends Well, Friargate Theatre, York, from November 27 to 30

Maurice Crichton

Maurice Crichton

First published in Theatre

ALL’s well that begins well for York Shakespeare Project chairman Maurice Crichton’s autumn production of All’s Well That Ends Well.

“I saw 46 people for the auditions, and it was very interesting to be on the other side of the director’s table,” says Maurice, who is more often to be found playing a principal role himself.

“As chairman, I’ve felt the need to be scrupulously fair. I didn’t specially invite anyone to audition. I’m wedded to the idea that there are no parts for insiders. I’ve gone for a balanced cast, which is to say a mix of youth and age, experience and enthusiasm. Eight of the 14 I’ve cast have not been in a YSP production before.”

In the company at the Friargate Theatre, York, from November 27 to 30 will be Sam Hill as Bertram; Helen Wilson as the Countess; Molly Kay as Helen; Ian Crossley, Reynaldo and Astringer; Bill Laverick, Lavatch; Jamie Smelt, Parolles; and Paul French, the King. Roger Farringon will play Lafew; John Hoyland, First Lord Dumaine; Andrew Isherwood, Second Lord Dumaine; Claire Morley, Soldier and Interpreter; Carys Evans, Widow; Sophie Tyler, Diana; and Gaynor Spivey, Mariana.

“Sam Hill has just finished his first year as an English Literature undergrad at York University,” says Maurice. “Molly Kay bumped into YSP characters in the café in Rowntree Park where she works when we were rehearsing Twelfth Night for our outdoor performance in Stratford. She has a first from the Arden School of Theatre, Manchester. These two both have serious talent and I hope will give Jamie Smelt a run for his money as he makes a welcome return to YSP after his Iago in Othello.”

Continuing his introductions, Maurice says: “Paul French is a good-looking gentleman from Bramham who came to see Twelfth Night and wanted to get involved as a result. Roger Farrington has been around [the York theatre scene] a long time but I had never met him before his audition. He, Gaynor Spivey and Bill Laverick are the senior members of the cast.

“Andrew Isherwood made a big impact in the 2012 Mystery Plays, as one of Pilate’s soldiers; Carys Evans is an English teacher from North Wales, now living on the Ouse; Sophie Tyler is our youngest member and played Juliet in YSP’s Sonnet Walks on the York streets earlier this month. She’s 17 in September.”

This weekend, John Hoyland will spend a second successive Sunday afternoon on a cross in York city centre playing Jesus in The Crucifixion and The Death Of Christ in the York Mystery Plays 2014, performing for the Company of Butchers in tandem with the Church of St Chad on Knavesmire. Without being flippant or blasphemous, all might not end well there – until the Resurrection – but All’s Well That Ends Well awaits. “I’m very pleased to have John involved as I think he has a great deal to offer, though there wasn’t a big part for him in All’s Well,” says Maurice.

Having taken a bold approach to his casting decisions – he has worked with only half of the cast previously and only Helen Wilson, Bill Laverick and Jamie Smelt to a significant extent – Maurice is turning his thoughts to his staging of All’s Well. While keeping his cards understandably close to his chest in July, he did reveal he had just ordered Gillo Pontecorvo’s film The Battle Of Algiers for research purposes. “We may move the setting to North Africa,” he says.

Intriguing.

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