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The Winter's Tale

RSC Stratford

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#1 The Glenbuck Laird

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 12:52 AM

I really enjoyed this production. Really worried after the at best luke warm reviews this week. Visually stunning set, I like the text of this Shakespeare play. Good performances from Tara Fitzgerald and Jo Stone-Fewings. Disagreed with Billington's review of most of the last few plays I have seen. Going to start to worry now when I agree with the theatre legend.

#2 xanderl

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:46 AM

Yes, agree with you - really enjoyed this. The outbursts of savagery were quite shocking (although it made it a bit unlikely that everyone kissed and made up at the end!)

I agree with the comments in some reviews about the video projections though: I was sitting right at the side of the stage so I could often just see them out of the corner of my eye while watching the middle of the stage, made me feel a bit seasick!

I'd recommend not sitting too far forward for this one, I couldn't see much of what was going on at high levels on the tower.

Autolycus was great and achieved the rare feat of making Shakespeare's comedy bits genuinely funny.
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage

#3 igb

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 07:34 AM

View Postxanderl, on 03 February 2013 - 08:46 AM, said:


I agree with the comments in some reviews about the video projections though

That makes the blood run cold.  I'm seeing this on Saturday because (a) younger has decided Winter's Tale is her favourite Shakespeare and (B) Tara Fitzgerald is always a draw for men of a certain age.  But I recall being in turns bored and annoyed by the video projections for Lucy Bailey's Julius Caesar in the Courtyard; I didn't realise that it was her sign manual.  I also recall that at that year's open day several people from the Caesar company alluded to the play not having had enough rehearsal or text work because they'd spent all the time making videos.

#4 xanderl

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 09:02 AM

You know you're watching a Lucy Bailey production if there are video projections and on-stage urination.

The videos, notes Charles Spencer, are designed by William Dudley who coincidentally is married to Lucy Bailey
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage

#5 igb

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 11:14 AM

View Postxanderl, on 05 February 2013 - 09:02 AM, said:

You know you're watching a Lucy Bailey production if there are video projections and on-stage urination.

You'd hope the increased number of lavatories in the new RST might remove the need for that.

#6 feste

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 04:51 PM

Saw this during previews and thought it was very good. Reading the reviews I wonder what on earth the critics are talking about - the complaints about projections were absolutely ludicrous. It's hardly a Jean Michel Jarre concert. For 95% of the time the projections are a backdrop and no more. There are only 2 scenes I can think of where they are actually used actively to advance the story.

As for Spencer's complaint about the tower, I rather liked this. The limbo within which Leontes flounders for 16 years made concrete. Don't be put off by the absurd reviews implying some weirdy modernisation this is a very good production with exceptional performances - particularly from Jo Stone-Fewings.

#7 Epicoene

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 09:07 PM

View Postxanderl, on 05 February 2013 - 09:02 AM, said:

You know you're watching a Lucy Bailey production if there are video projections and on-stage urination.

Yes, quite a shock in Uncle Vanya wasn't it ?

#8 igb

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:04 AM

Well, after my slight sense of foreboding, I thought it was all rather fine.

I've only seen a couple of Winter's Tales before: John Nettles and Samantha Bond in the dim and distant, and the Long Ensemble production a few years ago.  The latter captivated my younger daughter, then about eleven, which is why we found ourselves paying insane Saturday night prices, doubly insane if you would otherwise get a family discount for one of the seats, to fit it in with her hectic teenage diary.  

The good things.  The production is well-spoken, so you can hear and follow the very dense text.  Jo Stone-Fewing's Leontes makes a plausible descent into insane madness, and a set of vignettes which (presumably) show what he's thinking Hermione is doing work quite well.  Tara Fitzgerald is strong as a brave and true Hermione, although she looks as though she's done something bad to her back in a couple of scenes.  The rest of the cast is young, keen and excellent.  

The bad things.  The set is needlessly fussy, and the huge tower that emerges at the back of the stage to carry Leontes to his isolation rather dominates proceedings.  It also gives rise to the impression that Leontes is being borne aloft in some sort of epiphany as Hermione "dies", which I don't think works.  The video projection is a waste of time: when you look at it, it's incredibly low rent (deliberately retro?) and some of the images used on it would make a GCSE student blush at their obviousness.  The pre-Raphaelites of Sicily versus the Cloggies of Bohemia (the programme actually credits Bill Tidy's immortal cartoons!) doesn't really add anything, and the alleged north-eastern accent of the Perdita gives Dick Van Dyke hope for a new career as a dialect coach.  It's a bad sign when the director has to explain the concept at length in the programme.  There's a laughable executioner on stage for the trial scene who appears to have escaped from an episode of Horrible Histories. I can see what the production is getting at when Leontes puches Hermione full-force in the stomach, but that doesn't make it any less upsetting (which may be the point, of course).

For all that, though, the essential honesty of the acting shone through, and if you ignored all the fuss going on upstage, the whole thing was most enjoyable.  Although the north-eastern thing didn't really illuminate as a concept, it inspired some lovely singing and dancing.  Accompanying that, the music --- written by Jon Boden of Bellowhead, performed by a very impressive group of musicians --- put a spring into the second half.  And Autolycus is genuinely funny, too.

My overall impression is that Lucy Bailey had a complex and detailed concept she wanted to use for the production, which generated the sets, but the actors didn't pay the concept much attention and just got on with doing a really good piece of work.  It would be interesting to strip the production right down and do it in a black-box studio, rather than in a rather fussy RST context, and see what it looked like.

#9 Lynette

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 05:41 PM

Nice review igb. I love it when the actors just do their thing regardless of the director's daft ideas.

#10 David J

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 11:07 AM

I actually thought Leonte's jealousy was presented rather broadly to the point where it got unbelievable and tiring, especially in contrast to Tara Fitzgerald's more mature Hermione. The projections were less distracting than in Julius Caesar but the tower felt impractical and unnecessary. I would recommend the production however because of the second act, with some fantastic Morris dancing and a entertaining Autolycus.

Matinee

http://shallicompare...ale-review.html
My reviews can also be found at "A Night at the Theatre"

http://www.anightatthetheatre.co.uk/




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