Review by Oli Burley
SUCH is football’s grip on my battered psyche, that even
watching The Winter’s Tale at the Globe
reminded me of the once-beautiful game.
Sitting on the terraces, I was swept along by the gripping action
of John Dove’s production but even more so by the emotion
Half deflating, half make-believe with a swift, startling finale,
The Winter’s Tale is a thinking person’s
version of this year’s Champions League final.
So, if you find Shakespearean language more potent than a pass
and long to escape for a few hours into Elizabethan erudition,
then this is for you.
It is also the original practices production the Globe’s
Season of the World and the Underworld has been crying out for.
The play swaggers into life in Sicilia, where King Leontes (Paul
Jesson) proves as unbalanced as the structure of the work that
Convinced his wife Hermione (Yolanda
Vazquez) and King Polixenes of Bohemia (Peter Forbes) are lovers,
Leontes flies into a jealous, unruly rage.
The intensity is cranked up by Paulina (Penelope Beaumont), whose
utter belief at her King’s insanity eclipses any of the
fervour that has gone before.
But just as she threatens to steal the show, the work suddenly
shifts gear as a bear’s arm appears and drags her husband,
Antigonus, to his death.
Absurd as it looks on stage, the killing captures the fantastic
mood of the second-half of the play – which takes place
16 years later – uncannily well.
Preying on simple shepherds, Colin Hurley makes a devilish Autolycus
whose roguish antics are gobbled up by groundlings hungry for
In some ways his presence overshadows Perdita (Juliet Rylance)
and Florizel (David Sturzaker), the play’s engaging love
interest, but that is no bad thing.
For above all, the happy-ever-ending does not belong to them
but Hermione, who believed dead, returns with sufficient simplicity
to cap the audience’s incredulity.
I guess I’ll never know what the guy in the Liverpool shirt
in the lower tier made of it all, but I’ll wager that he
will be back next season.