The Winter's Tale
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Imogen de la Bere
16 - 25 March 2006
Trestle Arts Base, St Albans
The Winter’s Tale is many people’s favourite Shakespeare, and defies the conventional classifications of tragedy, comedy or history. One of his last plays, it beautifully expresses the idea of reconciliation through unconditional love that became his recurrent theme in old age.
Its story concerns the obsessive jealousy of Leontes and his subsequent grief-stricken mourning in the sterile court of Sicilia, which is contrasted with the rural idyll of Bohemia where his lost daughter grows up unaware of her true heritage.
OVO’s production, featuring live music specially adapted from Renaissance originals, delights and ravishes the senses.
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Tale is Well Seasoned
23rd March 2006
LOVE it or hate it, The Winter's Tale is undoubtedly the finest of Shakespeare's late plays.
It encapsulates elements of many of the earlier works including the great tragedies and presents one simple conclusion - forgiveness is always the best path.
St Albans drama group OVO, who are currently performing The Winter's Tale at the Trestle Arts Base in Russet Drive, have risen to the challenge of a play which contains pathos, drama, comedy - and that infamous bear.
Imogen de la Bere directs a taut production which is appealing in its simplicity yet demonstrates fiery passion and huge sadness at the same time.
It is all played out against the background of a team of live musicians who bring another - and welcome - dimension to the production.
Shakespeare's tale of the jealousy of Leontes, King of Sicilia, which leads to the perceived death of his wife, actual death of his son and banishment of his baby daughter is a moving one.
It is all too often remembered for that infamous stage direction: "Exit pursued by a bear", which has gone down in theatre history.
Like so much of the Bard's work it is all based on ludicrous misapprehensions but it is peopled by a fascinating cast of characters, not least the obsessed Leontes whose conclusion that his wife Hermione has been unfaithful to him is patently ridiculous. Mike David's performance as Leontes is restrained but very moving and he is the perfect foil for Lisa White's Hermione, at first so bubbly and alive but later devastated and bereft.
David Widdowson, recently seen as the eponymous hero in OVO's production of Macbeth, brings the same gravitas to the role of Polixenes, King of Bohemia, whom Leontes perceives to have been the lover of his wife.
Sue Dyson's Paulina is a feisty lady, quite prepared to stand up to Leontes but unable to persuade him that his baby daughter deserves to live.
The play is very much a tale of two parts and the scenes in Bohemia where that baby daughter, Perdita, has grown up and is being pursued by Polixenes' son Florizel are in complete contrast to what has gone before.
Chloe-Jane Dyson and Edmund White as the young lovers are very appealing, surrounded by a satellite of delightful characters, not least Paul de Burton's Porrus, whom Perdita believes is her father, his woolly-headed son Capnio, played by Will Franklin, and country wenches Dorcas and Mopsa, played by Jackie Tomes and Hayley Pullen respectively.
Into that mix comes the comic rogue Autolycus who is played with a light touch by Andrew Margerison.
The Winter's Tale continues OVO's fine tradition with Shakespeare and while the director may have taken some liberties in the comic scenes, they merely add to the strength of the production.
TIME - Rona Cracknell
LEONTES, King of Sicilia - Michael David
HERMIONE, Queen to Leontes - Lisa White
MAMILLIUS, son of Leontes and Hermione - Rupert Marson
CAMILLO, a lord - Adam Nichols
EMILIA, a lady - Hayley Pullen
PAMELA, a lady - Jackie Tomes
ARCHIDAMUS, a lord - Matt Jeffs
ANTIGONE, a lady - Anna McLeod
PAULINA, a lady - Sue Dyson
CLEOMENES, a lord - Stuart Goaman
DION, a lord - Andy Pinder
POLIXENES, King of Bohemia - David Widdowson / Peter Wood
PORRUS, reputed father of Perdita - Paul de Burton
CAPNIO, his son - Will Franklin
AUTOLYCUS, a rogue - Andrew Margerison
FLORIZEL, Prince of Bohemia - Edmund White
PERDITA, supposed a shepherdess - Chloe-Jane Dyson
DORCAS - a country wench - Jackie Tomes
MOPSA - a country wench - Hayley Pullen
CORIN - a country yokel - Stuart Goaman
DAMETAS - a country yokel - Andy Pinder
MUSICIANS - Charles Aitken, Jonathan Chambers, Matthew Chambers, Simone Mace
Director - Imogen de la Bere
Designer - Emma Phelps
Musical Director - Simone Chambers
Production Assistants - Julie Grant, Althea Hayton
Assistant Stage Managers - Judy Curd, Sara Davis, Julie Grant, Matt Jeffs, Adam Nichols
Lighting and Sound Designer - Phil Hamilton
Scenic Artists - Tiggy Harding, Amy White
Set Construction - Phil Elson, Althea Hayton, David Widdowson, Peter Woods
Costume - Alison Belding, Emma Phelps, Mandy Rogers
Properties - Hayley Pullen
Publicity and Programme Designer - Adam Nichols
Photographer - Sean Mackenzie
Publicity Co-ordinator - Sue Dyson
Media Co-ordinator - Lisa White
Front of House Co-ordinator - Stuart Goaman
Bar Manager - Toby Nichols