A HAPPY ENDING FOR ALL’S WELL. As I walked down the hill to Shakespeare on the Sound, I was curious to see how they would handle the ending. I think they made it about as happy an ending as you can get. There will always be doubts about whether Bertram can be reformed, If he can be, Helena is the girl to do it.
Much of the credit for the success of the ending belongs to the actors and director (Mary B. Robinson). Throughout the play, Bertram was played by Oliver Lehne as more young and inexperienced than arrogant, downplaying what Tony Tanner calls Bertram’s “usual semi-literate thuggish mode”. When Bertram delivers his short—and conditioned—acceptance of Helena (“If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly,/ I’ll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly”), Bertram is on his knees before Helena.
Just as important is that the play was romantic. It was a lovely summer evening by the Five Mile River with about a thousand happy people spread out on the low rises of land. And Katie Weiland, who played Helena, carried the play as she did As You Like It in 2013 and Two Gentlemen of Verona in 2014. I realize that if we are to believe that there may be a happy ending, it will turn on Helena’s ability to make Bertram a happy and decent man. I think most people left the play thinking that this Helena would be able to do that.