The Winter's Tale (2000): Southwark Playhouse, London
PrThe Winter's Tale (2000)
CAST INCLUDED: Lucy Briers (Paulina); Victoria Finney (Hermione); Fraser James (Leontes); J. D. Kelleher (Autolycus).
This production ran from 28 June - 29 July 2000. Cast information taken from World Shakespeare Bibliography; no programme has been located for verification. The advertising leaflet states "Director Erica Whyman has set the production in an imagined European world, reminiscent of the turn of the twentieth century. The great passage of time will remind us of the First World War - a moment in our recent history of sweeping change in men and women's experience and sense of themselves."
"Erica Whyman's production of The Winter's Tale has a wonderful freshness and simplicity. Even if you know the play backwards, it makes you hang on to every word as though you are seeing the piece for the first time. Consider the way this director handles the famous 16-year jump in the middle of the proceedings....In an extraordinarily moving twist, Whyman reassigns Time's soliloquy to a chorus comprised of characters from the play's dark past and from its brighter future. They strew the centre of stage with poppies; their voices ghost each other in psychologically pertinent patterns; like human hour-glasses, they let spill handfuls of the white sand that covers the floor throughout. The effect is both sad and heartening....The production is set, as a programme note puts it, 'in an imagined European world either side of the First World War' - the destructive madness of Leontes (a superbly hushed, unranting Fraser James) mythically linked to another life-changing trauma. The black and white of the formal costumes are thrown, in Soutra Gilmour's powerfully focusing design, into the sharpest sharp relief by the white of the sand and the black walls of this intimate studio theatre....Heartily recommended." ~ Paul Taylor, Independent, 17 July 2000
"The trouble with Shakespeare on the fringe is always one of scale. The intimacy of the lovers plays well, as does the Machiavellian plotting of the Court, but the Grandeur of Kingship in all its majesty, pomp and deference is concertina'd into nothing more than a casual spat between friends who just also happen to be Kings. Erica Whyman's often entrancing production of The Winter's Tale suffers from this lack of space. The young cast are ill at ease in the court of King Leontes, coming over as serious minded with that sort of flattening gravity that made me think of Peter Brook's dictum: the expectation on culture is that it should be boring....The costume design (early 20th century) suits the rustic charm of Bohemia, a kind of Vanessa Bell painting come to life. Sadly, with buttoned down starch collars and sombre mourning coats the court of King Leontes look like they were competing in a Lloyd George lookalike contest." ~ John Smith, Midweek, 3 July 2000