The Winter's Tale

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Conrad Nelson
Liverpool Playhouse
17th November - 22nd November 2015

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

The play opens with a host of characters celebrating the new millennium at the end of 1999 - it's hard to believe it was 16 years ago! - where a group of Sicilian noblemen, are attired in modern suits, shirts and ties.

Apparently, and I find this incredulous, that the unrealistic expectations and unattainable resolutions of a new century leads Leontes, played by the director Conrad Nelson, to him accusing his pregnant wife Hermione (Hannah Barrie) of adultery and that the baby she is about to bear is not his child. In effect he destroys everything close to his heart.

Despite the evidence that he is gravely mistaken in his belief he will not even consider that he is wrong.

Some of the scenes during the first act left me cold, with a distinct lack of humanity or warmth between the various characters. Spite, sadness and despair seemed the order of the day.

However, following the interlude, a completely fresh approach was introduced with all the cast appearing as if they were in the mid-1960s with folkies, hippies and various madcaps taking the stage. Not to mention a busker who resembled Bob Dylan from that period, including the playing of a harmonica. The term parody came to mind when they all frolicked around the stage, singing and playing music.

The play finished on a memorable note when Hermione, portrayed as a statue, stirs into life after the rest of the ensemble performs a musical motet. Leontes, far, far too late, realises the tragic mistake he has made.

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Comment left by colin serjent on 20th November, 2015 at 14:44
Oops! I forgot to mention the play was presented by Northern Broadsides in partnership with Harrogate Theatre.