Review: York International Shakespeare Festival, All's Well That Ends Well, Riding Lights, Friargate Theatre, York, until May 19; The Alchemist, Bronzehead Theatre, The Dogrose Theatre, 14 Pavement, York, ends Wednesday. Box office: 01904 623568/01904 655317 (Friargate);

THE third York International Shakespeare Festival is playing host to 60 performances from 12 countries.

From the furthest away comes Ji Young Choi's one-woman show Love Deadline (Desdemona), set in a traditional South Korean tea room, served up in the York Theatre Royal Studio tonight (May 14) and tomorrow at 7.45pm.

York Press:

Anyone for tea? Ji Young Choi in Love Deadline (Desdemona) at York International Shakespeare Festival

Created rather closer to come are festival resident company Riding Lights in Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well in their host venue, Friargate Theatre, and Bronzehead Theatre's defiantly-not-Shakespeare-but Ben-Jonson-instead's The Alchemist in the new pop-up space above the equally new York Gin shop at 14 Pavement, where director Tom Straszewski has put together a programme expressly for the festival.

"Hidden" in the rafters of Sir Thomas Herbert House, the Dogrose – the "best pop-up Shakespeare theatre in York this summer", said Straszewski, tongue in cheek before Shakespeare's Rose Theatre returns to the Castle car park for ten weeks from June 25 – is home to alchemists, fairies and dying kings over the days before York Gin announces longer-term plans for a performance space.

In the meantime, here are two festival productions that had the best of intentions to cut Shakespeare and Ben Jonson respectively to 90 minutes. The commercial pull of a drinks interval prevailed at Friargate, while Straszewski jokingly said he couldn't get his actors to shut up sufficiently to stick to his proposed time limit.

Nevertheless, both All's Well That Ends Well and The Alchemist have a welcome turn of pace to suit the shenanigans within. At Friargate, Sean Cavanagh has designed a suitably combative traverse stage for the Brexit-shadowed European clash of love, sex and class, the audience close up on either side of a copper-toned strip with matching curtains at either end, from which Italians emerge at one end, the French at the other, with a cafe in between, beneath Oliver Brown's lovely festoon lighting.

In this bustling setting, in words of director Paul Burbridge, "two teenagers make their way in a dangerous world of pointless conflicts, capricious leaders, outbursts of continental emotion and singing, as Riding Lights streamline All’s Well into a jolly evening of breathless trips chasing true love, honour, Italian young women and solutions to frankly impossible tasks".

Anna Gooch's costumes are a playful delight in the company of Burbridge's quintet of actor musicians who fizz through Shakespeare's rarely performed comedy drama with such brio that you wonder why All's Well is well down the list of Shakespeare favourites.

Hannah Barker's Countess/Diana/more besides, is the pick but Nell Baker, John Holden-White, Matthew Rutherford and Daniel Woolley start well, end well, do everything well in between too. Patrick Burbridge's music suits the mayhem very well too.

York Press:

Very Subtle: James Swanton in full grifter mode as Subtle in The Alchemist

Meanwhile, over at The Dogrose, Helen Buchanan's rendition of The Clash's Cheat sets up the punk energy of Straszewski's take on The Alchemist, Jonson's "scabrous farce of grifters and the fools who believe them".

14 Pavement becomes the adopted "home" for Anna Rose James's nimble servant Face, Buchanan's somewhat over-excitable Doll Common and James Swanton's quicksilver alchemist Subtle to work their cons on Bryan Heeley, Claire Morley and Jess Murray's "fools" in myriad masks that hang from empty picture frames until they are adopted for each character with such swiftness.

All wear black, each has a white face and makeshift Elizabethan ruff, ranging from surgical gloves to washing-machine tubing and a paper lampshade, courtesy of Sandrine Enryd Carllson, who "makes masks, props and things happen".

Indeed she does, and so does Straszewski, making everything happen wittily in this thorn-sharp show, where James and Swanton, in particular, grift most profitably.

Charles Hutchinson