The director of The Winter’s Tale at the Crucible in Sheffield loves the play because of the idea that everyone deserves a second chance.
Sheffield Theatres associate director Paul Miller said: “This is a play I’ve wanted to do for about 35 years. It’s entered my imagination and there is something unique about it.
“There is something about the ending that is so powerful, theatrical and unique. That’s always lodged itself with me and it’s grown over time.
“The reason the play is so appealing for everybody and anybody is that it’s about second chances and how they are possible even when it looks most impossible.
“A second chance is always possible but has to be earned.”
He said: “In the last few years the theatre’s got a reputation for doing Shakespeare that is very clear and direct and unfussy and all the more powerful because of it.
“In this case I’m going further. Designer Simon Daw has created a fantastic modern version of a classic Shakespearean stage.
“The play is about the power of stories and storytelling, so I’ve tried to honour that. There are stories within stories, one of which is about how to nearly destroy people’s lives and restore them at the end.”
In the story Leontes (played by Daniel Lapaine), a king of an imaginary European city, suddenly becomes insanely jealous of his heavily pregnant wife, Hermione (Claire Price). He wrongly accuses her of carrying another monarch’s baby, causing the distraught Hermione’s apparent death shortly after she gives birth, and orders the newborn girl to be abandoned.
Years later the princess Perdita is found and is reunited with her family, including with her mother, who appears to come back to life from being a statue.
Paul says of the statue scene: “I investigate the play and find out what’s there and try and trust the playwright.
“The play has a lot of different elements in it that are fantastical. There is a curious blending of tragic and comic events, sometimes simultaneously, that makes some people nervous to put it on. For a lot of people it’s their favourite Shakespeare play as a result.”
However, it is not seen on stage very often. Paul said: “All plays are new plays if you haven’t seen them before. This will be new to a lot of people.” He has also directed popular productions of Hamlet, which starred Life on Mars actor John Simm, DH Lawrence’s play The Daughter-In-Law and Michael Frayn’s drama Democracy at the theatre.
The director said he really enjoys working in Sheffield.
“The city has a specific theatre-going audience who are keen on plays and yet are not jaded. It’s an ideal combination. It is a sophisticated audience who are coming to things with an open mind.”
He urged: “Come and see a play that takes you on a fantastical journey through so many twists and turns and extremes of tragedy and comedy.”
The Winter’s Tale runs at the Crucible until November 2. Box office: 0114 249 6000 or online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk