16 June 2009

A Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare

Leontes -Simon Russell Beale
Florizel - Michael Braun
Mamillius/Perdita - Morven Christie
Paulina - Sinead Cusack
Old Shepherd/Time - Richard Easton
Hermione - Rebecca Hall
Polixenes - Josh Hamilton
Autolycus - Ethan Hawke
Camillo - Paul Jesson
Servant - Aaron Krohn
Antigonus/Shepherd - Dakin Matthews
Mariner/Shepherd - Mark Nelson
Lady in Waiting/Mopsa - Charlotte Parry
Dorcas/ Jessica Pollert Smith
Cleomenes/Bear/Shepherd - Gary Powell
Young Shepherd - Tobias Segal
Emilia/Shepherdess - Hannah Stokely

Directed by Sam Mendes
Set Designed by Anthony Ward

Seen by way of a birthday present in unexpectedly close proximity to the stage (row F being only 3 from front) at the Old Vic as part of the wonderful Bridge Project collaboration. Celeb in Audience - Raza Jaffrey.

As vibrant and perfect a production of this as I could ever wish to see. Simon Russell Beale is an actor of epic proportions which demands that his cast is chosen very carefully from the best around. I think he must be one of those actors that colleagues describe as generous because whilst his fearful and regal status is always maintained, he never completely steals anything from the other performers and I am convinced that he dips his feet in wax before each performance. How else could they look so perfect and cherubic?
I have to say I thought the balloon dance was horrible & it jarred with the rest of the production.
I sat next to a couple who's male contingent was the kind of pompous twat who smugly remarks upon the glaringly obvious about 90 seconds after it happens under the spurious pretext of having to explain details to his poor simple-minded wife. Where's my tazar?
We were asked to turn off our cellphones at the start. I know this is a bridge between the US and the UK but was that really necessary?
At one point there was a strange commotion in the audience that seemed to come from a school party. It was alarmingly prolonged & involved lots of seat banging.

It's a daft and much used device but the candles gave a wonderfully regal effect & there was a pragmatic mix of real and electrically assisted fitments.
I also enjoyed the use of silhouettes which could have been overplayed but seemed to just hit the right balance.
The oracle sequence is no doubt described elsewhere in great detail but I prefer to remain mesmerised and mystified.
The music was so perfectly judged and reminded me most achingly of Gabriel Yared.

There is a lot of free parking around the Old Vic if you arrive after 6:30 but it fills fast & I had to park at the side by the stage door. As I moved away, I saw Mr Beale dragging heavily on his Benson's trying to battle through the many patrons still spilling onto the street at the front of the theatre. He made his way unnoticed and unchallenged.