Seattle Shakespeare Company has labeled this a romantic comedy, though romance is rather an afterthought preceded by reluctance, disappointment, and deceit. And even at the end, its not warm fuzzies you feel so much as succinct satisfaction; if its not happy, at least its tidy. Hence theres a debate over whether one of the bards least frequently produced plays is in fact a comedy or a tragedy. After curing the king of what appeared to be a fatal illness, Helena, a poor physicians daughter, is granted the right to marry any man she chooses. Regrettably for her, her choice, the noble Bertram, would rather die than be her husband, so he sends himself to war. The plays tone could go either way, and director Stephanie Shines greatest success is making the comic moments funny and the tragic moments poignant. In the former category, Paul Morgan Stetler is wonderful as Bertrams cowardly sidekick Parolles, and Trista Duval is charming as Helenas fellow conspirator. BRENT ARONOWITZ 7:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.; also 2 p.m. Sat., June 14 & 21. Ends June 29.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Sat., June 14, 2 p.m.; Sat., June 21, 2 p.m. Starts: June 5. Continues through June 29, 2008