With its themes of jealousy, obsession and remorse, The Winter’s Tale is an inspired choice of play to perform in a derelict warehouse off the busy streets of central London.
And inspired by the Krays’ East London, with Leontes adopting the persona of head gangster, barking orders to his mob, Theatre Delicatessen’s production couldn’t be more sinister.
Tom Daplyn’ Leontes, sharply-dressed in a suit, becomes increasingly convinced his wife Hermione (Laura Martin-Simpson) is having an affair with Polixenes (Henry Maynard). His obsession spirals out of control, culminating in a (literally) chilling storm scene at the end of the first half. Lights are turned down low and shadows loom on the brick walls as the wind whistles around the vast warehouse and the large windows are flung open to let in the night breeze.
Maynard is excellent both as the charming Polixenes and a meat-headed mobster.
Martin-Simpson and Florencia Cordeu as Paulina are a joy to watch as two powerful female figures, desperately trying to plead Hermione’s innocence.
While the exposed brick walls and echoing acoustics of the warehouse lends itself to the horror and tragedy of the first half, Jessica Brewster’s deft direction also sees the venue’s cavernous space put to excellent use in the second half. Another huge room, covered with flowers, is revealed as the action moves forward 16 years into the party-like atmosphere of the Bohemian idyll.
Daplyn here plays a truly convincing old man (Old Shepherd) and a calmer, remorseful Leontes, while Autolycus gets the laughs as a thieving, Cockney bag lady.
As the audience are invited to follow the action between rooms and even partake in some of the dancing, this is lively and brilliantly-conceived theatre that will keep you entertained throughout.