Skip to main content

The Winter’s Tale

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
3 stars
The Winter’s Tale has always been a play with an identity crisis. In part demonstrating the consequences of Leontes’ own mid-life funk when unfounded jealousy gets the better of him, its third act lurch into altogether sunnier climes is an awkward looking fancy which frankly outstays its welcome by a country mile before the reconciliation with Hermione takes place.

Mark Thomson’s deceptively bright production by and large plays it straight, as anyone familiar with Thomson’s stabs at Shakespeare will recognise. Handsome, suited and booted, utterly faithful to the text – at times too much so - and frequently featuring the ever brilliant Liam Brennan in a leading role, all of this is present and correct here to the extent that there are times you can’t help but crave more audacity beyond the snowy flecks on the mens’ jackets.

When it comes, in the face of Time, who ushers us among the country artisans where a grown-up Perdita frolics with Polixenes’ son Florizel at the top of the play’s second half, it’s a treat impressively at odds with everything else. Because Time is here a vocodered up Stephen Hawking figure whose wheelchair is lowered down from the rafters in a far odder personification than the play’s famed stage direction concerning a bear (here realised, incidentally, by a deft use of shadow-play).

It’s a throwaway gag that’s never fully exploited. But then, when Brennan is on a stage, all vulnerable lost soul terrified that he might lose Selina Boyack’s Hermione, positively glowing with pregnant vivacity, you don’t really need much else. If only the future Time promised had allowed Leontes access to DNA samples, lie detector tests and Jeremy Kyle, the whole rotten palaver might have been sorted out a lot quicker in a prettily realised but over-long affair.

The Herald, September 24th 2007

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…