THE WINTER’S TALE
by William Shakespeare.
The Roundhouse Chalk Farm Road NW1 8EH In rep to 1 January 2011.
7.15pm 22, 29 Dec.
Mat 1.15pm 23, 30, 31 Dec, 1 Jan.
Audio-described/Captioned 29 Dec.
Runs 3hr 10min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 482 8008.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 December.
A Winter’s Tale fit for all seasons.
At the dead centre of The Winter’s Tale an old man discovers a baby. Then his son runs in, having discovered a dead man. “Thou met’st with things dying, I with things newborn,” says the old shepherd to the young. They’re bit-part players, elsewhere seen as simple comic folk. But at that mid-point moment, they hold the play’s profundity in their mouths.
For it’s about dying and coming to life, over a sixteen-year span which Patrick Romer’s Time makes seem a continuation of the diurnal process. And if the Old Shepherd grumbles about his teenage offspring, he has nothing like the problems kings Polixenes and Leontes have with their sons.
One strength of David Farr’s fine production is the way the first act ‘victim’ Polixenes, wrongly accused of adultery with his friend Leontes’ wife, shows a parallel, if lesser, rage as the second half opens, with his own son. And Leontes, in the most inexplicable rage Shakespeare created, moves in a moment to jealous suspicion of his wife Hermione, leading to the death of his son.
If Greg Hicks doesn’t explain the inexplicable, he makes it emotionally credible, with an intensity that bites into Leontes. From his open, sociable stance, wine-glass in hand, he’s soon screwed tortuously into his chair. Internal agony precedes, and gives rise to, rage. Never has Leontes seemed more credibly someone who can act like a tyrant yet have people openly defy him.
Principally, Paulina, wife of ill-fated courtier Antigonus (whose end here adapts the famous Shakespearean stage-direction into ‘Exit, consumed by a bear’). In another no-nonsense performance (following Juliet’s Nurse) Dumezweni brings a shrewd, intelligent purpose to Paulina’s criticisms, based in a clear trust and loyalty to Kelly Hunter’s Hermione. Her suffering is clear as she shields her eyes when entering for her trial, after being kept in a dark prison-cell.
The pastoral scenes can become effortful, though Brian Doherty is a plausible Autolycus, left out in the cold as sociable indoor murmurings start up offstage, as if resuming from before all the trouble began. A moving production, with Dumezweni and – above all – Hicks triumphant.
Archidamus/Officer: Joseph Arkley.
Camillo: John Mackay.
Leontes: Greg Hicks.
Polixenes: Darrell D’Silva.
Hermione: Kelly Hunter.
Mamillius: Alfie Jones/Sebastian Salisbury.
Emilia: Hannah Young.
Antigonus: James Gale.
Sicilian Lords: Adam Burton, David Rubin.
Paulina: Noma Dumezweni.
Cleomenes: Phillip Edgerley.
Dion/Paulina’s Steward: Sam Troughton.
Servants: Paul Hamilton, Oliver Ryan.
Servant/Mariner/Time: Patrick Romer
Old Shepherd: Larrington Walker.
Young Shepherd: Gruffudd Glyn.
Autolycus: Brian Doherty.
Officer/Florizel: Tunji Kasim.
Perdita: Samantha Young.
Lady/Mopsa: Kirsty Woodward.
Lady/Dorcas: Simone Saunders.
Director: David Farr.
Designer: Jon Bausor.
Lighting: Jon Clark.
Sound: Martin Slavin.
Music Director: Mark Bousie.
Music: Keith Clouston.
Movement: Struan Leslie, Lucy Cullingford.
Text/Voice work: Charmian Hoare.
Choreographer: Arthur Pitta.
Puppetry: Steve Tiplady.
Aerial consultant: Lyndall Merry.
Assistant director: Helen Leblique.