The Winters Tale is not a Shakespeare play that I was familiar with and equally this was my first experience of the Propeller, all male cast, performing Shakespeare as it would have been seen at the time of its writing.
From this performance I think it is fair to say that neither will become a firm favourite of mine.
This personal opinion not withstanding it was worthy of a good review as the performance as a whole was in parts richly cast with some ingenious moments – the herd of sheep at the shearing high amongst them.
Before the interval the stage was stark and dark and this reflected the mood of the play and indeed the despair of the characters. However this was a play of two definite halves and after the interval the lightness of the set and frivolity of the cast mirrored the change in the telling of the tale which became almost Gilbert and Sullivan simplistic in its unravelling.
It was, without doubt ,a play in which the lesser parts shone; both John Dougal as the Old Shepherd and Karl Davies’ very good performance as the clown like Young Shepherd stood out as did Vince Leigh as the faithful maid Paulina. Tony Bell gave a crowd pleasing performance clad in leather and fur and claimed as his own the majority of the laugh out loud moments.
Whilst I was unsure that using actors instead of actresses served any specific purpose I did appreciate the female stances and gestures adopted by all the actors in female roles particularly those of Richard Dempsey when playing the heavily pregnant Hermione.
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