The Winter’s Tale – William Shakespeare
Cheek By Jowl
Theatre Royal Bath
This visually brilliant production of The Winter’s Tale springs from the inspired minds of Declan Donnellan (Director) and Nick Ormerod. Their trade mark style and reimagining of the classic text allows a seamless journey across the years and brings new breath to one of Shakespeare’s last plays.
The Winter’s Tale tells of a delusional and paranoid monarch who tears his family apart. When Leontes, King of Sicilia, wrongly suspects his wife Hermione of adultery with his boyhood friend Polixenes, King of Bohemia, he is consumed with jealously. Leontes has Hermione imprisoned and orders their new-born daughter to be abandoned on the shores of Bohemia. However, the child survives. From death and destruction to love and life, initial darkness gives way to joy as Time leads the characters to a shattering conclusion.
Orlando James (Leontes) plays the King in a tortured madness, allowing the first act to be an insight into his world and inner turmoil. He is fiercely brutal, it is impossible also to imagine he can ever be fully redeemed and the miraculous conclusion of events does little to appease the emotional depths that are reached in the piece.
Natalie Radmall – Quirke is a strong, resilient and bold Queen who loses so much in the face of Leonates jealousy. The use of the live camera work allows us a great insight into the trial scene that is most compelling, a mesmerising performance.
The excellent design by Nick Ormerod provides flexibility to the staging that heightens the emotional range of the piece. Act 2 brings a glorious sheep shearing festival led by the hugely engaging Ryan Donaldson (Autoclycus.)
The production is highly polished and the cast are excellent. At times the dialogue was inaudible in the large space which was disappointing. However, there is a great deal to enjoy this modern restaging allows the key themes of abandonment; love and jealousy to prevail and will no doubt bring the work to a new audience.
**** – 4 Stars