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The Winter’s Tale review at Watermill Newbury

This challenging production from all-male Shakespeare company Propeller is a masterpiece of ingenuity from all angles – the versatility and passion of the cast themselves, the sharp and exciting direction from Edward Hall, assisted by Adam Penford, the harsh metallic surroundings created by designer Michael Pavelka and the soft, soothing lighting by Ben Ormerod. Between these diverse factors the production is swept along on a fevered wave of mental and physical destruction, yet employs a gentle softness where needed to create some beautiful contrasts.

With a little help from the joyful and doleful music of actor/musicians Tony Bell, Dugald Bruce Lockhart, Jules Werner and Richard Clothier, jubilant and sinister movement by Adam Levy and the text edits of Hall and Roger Warren, Propeller literally propels us into Leontes’ world of unfounded jealousy and destruction. The first half is exhausting, displaying, as it does, the self-inflicted road to hell of Clothier’s Leontes and those closest to his heart, namely his Queen Hermione (Simon Scardifield) and Mamillius, their son (Tam Williams).

The second half ocommences with the light-hearted sheep shearing festival at which the rogue Autolycus, hilariously played Bell, proves himself to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. There are so many humorous elements to this scene that the dark horrors of the first half make an effective and emotional contrast – yet the mood once again skilfully changes as the play reaches its conclusion.

Production Information

Watermill, Newbury, January 20-March 19

William Shakespeare
Edward Hall
Propeller, Watermill Theatre
Cast includes
Vince Leigh, Richard Clothier, Simon Scardifield, Tam Williams, Bob Barrett, Jules Werner
Running time