BWW Reviews: THE WINTER'S TALE, Crucible, Sheffield, October 8 2013
The latest Shakespeare to hit Sheffield's Crucible theatre is The Winter's Tale. Under Paul Miller's direction, the range of emotions in the play come through incredibly strongly, with the audience moved at different points to laugh hysterically, share the sorrows of characters, or feel a sense of shock.
It's difficult to single out any performance as the whole cast is incredibly strong, but Daniel Lapaine makes for a charming and sinister Leontes, and Patrick Walshe McBride has a clear future in comedic roles if his sweet hilarious Young Shepherd is anything to go by. Keir Charles seizes the role of Autolycus with gusto and has the audience - and the other characters - eating out of the palm of his hand. The role of Mamillius is shared by two local Sheffield boys: Luca Walton Ryan and Thomas Barker.
My companion was blown away by Simon Daw's design work throughout the play, in particular the fantastic costumes. The second act in particular is very exciting visually with several changes of location and costume - and the final scene is not only beautifully staged and acted, it is wonderfully lit by Mark Doubleday and team.
This production is not perfect, as with many Shakespeare plays, it takes a long time to get started. As a result, the first scene, full of long speeches, is somewhat dull to listen to - and mostly consists of actors walking and talking, so it's not too exciting to watch, either. Perhaps some judicious pruning of the text might have helped here, or a more creative approach taken to the staging of this scene. However, once the key plot elements are put into place and situations complicate themselves via Leontes becoming suspicious of his wife Hermione (Claire Price, a familiar and welcome face at Sheffield Theatres) and friend Polixenes (Jonathan Firth), the pace quickens and the rest of the show flies by (at over three hours it's not short - and the interval was very brief). Indeed, the second act is almost breathtaking in the range of performance required of the actors and they pull it off very successfully, with one cast member in particular leaving you wondering, 'How did they do THAT'?
The Winter's Tale is at the Crucible, Sheffield, until Saturday November 2nd.