The Winter’s Tale, Lyceum
WHAT would Bill Shakespeare have made of Propeller’s treatment of one of his latter, lesser performed plays?
Four hundred years on, director Ed Hall’s take unfolds across two visually very contrasting halves, opening with Sicilia’s playful but elegant court scene of sharp suits and modern lines.
It’s sleek practicality is somehow at odds with the unnatural speed at which Leontes (a weighty shift from Robert Hands) convinces himself wife Hermione (perfectly cast Me & My Girl returnee Richard Dempsey) is cheating with and pregnant to his lifelong friend Polixines (a commanding Nicholas Asbury) .
Yet, under the light of the moon he is consumed by a destructive, feverish jealousy with tragic consequences for all that is dear to him.
Bohemia’s joyful festival-style second half setting features music from The Bleatles and suitably slippery scoundrel Autolycus, wonderfully delivered by Tony Bell, before faces and events of 16 years earlier re-surface, collide and ultimately return home to inspire repentence and reunion.
Propeller can sometimes be accused of trying too hard to be different and there are points in which this revival maybe goes over the top – then again, that sheep scene is true genius.
The all-male cast can never be said to simply re-heat old material. They add colour, vigour and imagination to match the language which, while taking Tale to nearly three hours, breathes smart new life into one of the Bard’s less inspirational stories.
We think he would have approved. Ends Saturday.