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KING OF FRANCE: "Let me not live after my flame lacks oil, to be the snuff of younger spirits" Feeling old and ill at the beginning of the play, he regains his energy and force of will with his health. He never loses his wit and his innately playful spirit. Not a huge role, but a good one.

LEFEU: A contemporary and friend of the king - mature, respectable and wise, but spirited and playful. A larger role than the king; the first at court to recognize and mock Parolles' faults, and the last to deal with him at the end.

BERTRAM: Count of Rousillon. A very young man (under 21, perhaps as young as 14), very good-looking, much too easily swayed by the advice of his attendant, Parolles. This role is a challenge to bring off - the audience will despise this character for his many wrong-headed actions, unless the actor is able to convey a sense of youthful charm and innocence strong enough to win hearts. The love interest - a major role.

PAROLLES: A follower of Bertram. A braggart, a popinjay, claiming to be a great soldier on the strength of his fashion sense and his familiarity with the right people and the right catch-phrases; he encourages Bertram's worst instincts and leads him into the worst folly - until he is trapped and unmasked in one of the funniest scenes in the play. A major role.

2 brothers DUMAINE: The standard script refers to them in most scenes as "First Lord" and "Second Lord." Their name, and the fact that they are brothers, are only revealed near the end of the play, during the scene when they unmask Parolles. They are young French lords, a little older than Bertram, and a little wiser - playful, bold, and likely to mature into men like LeFeu and the King.

LAVACH: Clown to the Countess of Rousillon. He is a zany, with a lot of silly "bits." The role's function in the story is to provide comic commentary on the twists of the plot, although he also serves as a messenger at an important moment. If nobody sufficiently clowny auditions, I will cut many of his lines - I may cut some anyway, because not all of his humor will be funny to modern audiences.

REYNALDO: Steward to the Countess of Rousillon. Dignified and responsible. Two scenes; the actor can be double-cast in any of several other roles.

DUKE OF FLORENCE: Two dignified scenes; the actor can be double-cast in any of several other roles.

A SOLDIER: Appears in Parolles' unmasking scene, speaking a made-up language as part of the plot - a very funny bit part. Can be double-cast in any of several other roles.

A FRENCH GENTLEMAN: Appears in one scene; can be double-cast in any of several other roles.

A PAGE: Appears in two scenes; can be double-cast in any of several other roles.

Lords and soldiers, with a line or two of dialog here and there - can be double-cast in any of several other roles.


COUNTESS OF ROUSILLON: In mourning for her husband, and concerned about her son (Bertram) and her adopted daughter (Helena). Wise, still playful and strong - a good-sized role.

HELENA: The mover of the plot; at the center of the play. The daughter of the late physician Gerard de Narbon, for whom she's in mourning. About the same age as Bertram, and deeply in love with him. Enterprising, creative and courageous - she goes through two sets of trials, and is successful in both.

WIDOW CAPILET: A respectable Florentine gentlewoman of reduced circumstances, who provides lodgings for pilgrims; the mother of Diana. Well-grounded and practical; she helps Helena in her game of wits with Bertram.

DIANA: Daughter of the Widow Capilet; a beautiful and virtuous young woman wooed by Bertram. She has to be quick-witted in her scenes with Bertram and, later, with the King of France.

MARIANA: The Widow Capilet's helpful neighbor - small role; could be double cast in one of the more numerous small male roles.