Although Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well” is often described as a problem play — caught uneasily between comedy and drama — Seattle Shakespeare Company had no problems creating an outstanding production.

SSC describes the play as a “gender flip fairytale of love and war with a twist.” Their version leans toward comedy, with a wonderful cast of actors, beautifully directed by Victor Pappas.

Written between 1603 and 1606, Shakespeare based his play on a medieval story from Giovanni Boccaccio’s “Decameron” (1350-1353), a collection of 100 tales (mostly love stories larded with X-rated jokes).

In the Bard’s rendition — a bittersweet comedy — a young woman pursues her heart’s desire and, despite the odds, gains new insight into love and relationships. And unlike other Shakespeare heroines, she doesn’t need to don pants to follow her heart. Or should we say, “pursue?”

Setting:  Medieval France.

Helena is a lovely young woman but not of noble birth. After her father dies, she’s taken under the wing of her guardian, the Countess of Rousillon, and soon develops a secret crush on the countess’ son Bertram, a narcissistic snob who repels many; but not Helena.

Fate intervenes: The French king has a life-threatening, abscessed boo-boo on his rear end (the Bard’s deviant sense of humor). As the daughter of a renowned physician (deceased), Helena is summoned to the court to take a look at it and hopefully prescribe a cure. When she succeeds, the grateful monarch rewards her by offering her a choice of husbands. She, of course, chooses snooty and shallow Bertram, who considers her beneath his class and has no interest in wedding her. But the king gives him no choice.

His nuptials barely over, Bertram lashes out, vowing never to bed Helena unless she meets certain criteria, which he’s certain she can never do. And he hightails off to fight in the Florentine War.

Helena refuses to take this lying down — well, actually, that is her objective — and follows him. A heartless cad, Bertram’s up to his old wenching routine: Seducing fair maidens, and then tossing them aside. Helena reaches out to Diana, his latest mark, and together they plot his comeuppance. 

It’s the old under-the-sheets plot device Shakespeare also uses in “Measure for Measure.” Naturally, chaos ensues until the Bard brings the action around to embrace the play’s title, however improbable that seems.  So yes, all’s well that ends well; at least for now.

The role of Helena is complex, and Keiko Green delivers it with a convincing range of emotions.  [Playwright George Bernard Shaw praised Helena for embodying the New Woman and compared her to Nora from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.]

Despite her lower-class status, Helena is far too good for the loathsome Bertram, which begs the question, “Why?” [This critic was reminded of a saying, “‘There’s no accounting for taste,’ said the old woman that kissed a cow.”]

Michael Winters returns to Seattle and takes on the role of the King of France. As ever, Winters gives a magnificent performance, displaying every nuance of his character with perfection. He is powerful, compassionate and honorable; if only our dear leader were so.

Seattle favorite Suzanne Bouchard portrays the Countess with grace and strength. Bouchard is a Seattle treasure. And as Bertram, Conner Brady Neddersen has the daunting challenge of convincing the audience he’s desirable, despite his lofty persona.

A slew of supporting characters round out the cast — a marvelous bunch of thespians.

As Bertram’s braggart advisor and BFF, Paroles, Seattle Shakespeare Company’s artistic director George Mount delivers comedic verbosity, commedia dell’arte style. Paroles loves to hear himself prattle on and delights in waxing hilariously about the unimportance of virginity with bawdy pomposity.

As Lafew, an elder French courtier, R. Hamilton Wright, another Seattle favorite, isn’t afraid to take on Paroles, and he does so with glee. And Ayo Tushinde charms as the impressionable and naïve Diana.

Designer Carol Wolfe Clay creates a classic ambience with gothic arches and pillars, a portico and stone benches, while K.D. Schill’s costume designs signal the characters’ social statuses, and Andrew D. Smith’s lighting enhances the various scenes. 

Shakespeare didn’t coin the phrase, “All’s well that ends well.” It’s an old proverb that invites this idea: As long as things turn out okay, stress and despair along the way are well worth it.

Before Leo Tolstoy found the final title for “War and Peace,” he considered calling it “All’s Well That Ends Well.” The Bard’s creation could equally be called “War and Piece.”

Shakespeare’s plot device of “marrying above one’s station” resonates through the ages. From fairytales like Cinderella, Jane Austen’s heroines, and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding to The Bachelorette and “Crazy Rich Asians,” the triumph of love over class continues to gladden our hearts.