The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
Teddington Theatre Club
Hampton Hill Theatre - 30 January 2019
Review by Andrew Lawston
The Winter's Tale is a play of two halves, lurching from courtly psychological drama to rustic comedy with only the infamous bear chase sequence to separate the two. TTC gamely takes on both elements in this ambitious but confident new production from director Michelle Hood at Hampton Hill Theatre.
Against Fiona Auty's austere backlit set of Regency pillars and stylised white trees, Neelaksh Sadhoo opens the play as Leontes, the king who starts to believe, with frankly implausible swiftness, that his wife Hermione (Alana Wren), who conveys infinite patience throughout for her dangerously petulant husband, has been unfaithful to him with his childhood friend King Polixenes of Bohemia. It's a challenging part to portray convincingly, and Neelaksh gives a sincere portrayal of a genuinely tormented man, which sells the character's bizarre plummet into jealous insanity.
As Leontes grows ever more paranoid, Matt O'Toole's likeable Camillo is torn between loyalty and morality, opting to flee Sicilia with Polixenes. This perceived betrayal accelerates the chaos in the court, as Dionne King's wily Paulina and Darren McIlroy's loyal Antigonus struggle in their own ways to make Leontes see sense. In their Sicilian mode, the courtiers and ladies in waiting lend further credibility to Leontes' central performance as they react to his outbursts with fear, touched with concern for a once-great leader. As he ignores the pleas of his whole court, and even the Oracle of Delphi, the cast avoid the temptation to ham up the increasingly melodramatic material, instead opting to play everything straight.
As hair is let down and dancing bursts forth, the contrast between formal Sicilia and apparently-carefree Bohemia could not be clearer … …
Read Andrew Lawston’s full review at www.markaspen.wordpress.com/2019/01/27/winter-tale
Photography by Sarah Carter
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