Last night we went to see ‘The Winter’s Tale’ at The Old Vic. The theatre was packed to see Sam Mendes’ Bridge Project (transatlantic collaboration) production of one of Shakespeare’s least (by me anyway) well-known plays.
To be honest I can see why the play is not often performed: the first act is grim tragedy (in this production played largely by the English) while the second act, set 16 years later, is lighter (played largely by Americans) with a happy ending if you are prepared to suspend sufficient disbelief to accept a statue coming to life.
However, the Old Vic production is excellent and makes the most of the play. There are particularly fine performances from Simon Russell Beale (Leontes), Rebecca Hall (Hermione), Sinead Cusack (Paulina), Richard Easton (Old Shepherd), and Ethan Hawke (Autolycus). The direction is inspired – watch out for the balloon scene and the original ‘Exit pursued by a bear’.