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|The Winter's Tale|
|The Winter's Tale
by William Shakespeare
Review by George Allan (November 1977)
Youth Action Theatre always managed to put on something of a tour-de-force in its productions at Hampton Court Theatre, and last week was no exception - with Shakespeare's difficult, yet rewarding The Winter's Tale as the example.
Director Eric Yardley drew from his cohorts of young actors a performance of great power and sweep, and while individual performances might have been lacking in finesse or the last ounce of understanding, the total effect was immensely greater than the sum of the separate parts. It is a matter of great moment that Mr Yardley was able to instil into these youngsters such a depth of understanding as well as such a feeling for the play as a whole.
Before I get on to the individual actors, I would like to compliment Melanie Wood on her set, which managed to convey the claustrophobia of the first half of the play and the open-spacedness and open-heartedness of the second perfectly; it showed real imagination. The set was lit well too, by Chris Olney and Len Lee.
The brunt of the drama is carried, of course, by Leontes, King of Sicilia, whose overweening jealousy precipitates the tragic side of the story, with the death of his son, the supposed death of his wide, and the supposed exposure of his baby daughter to the ravages of the elements.
In this role David Lewsey, one of YAT's most accomplished actors, was more successful as the remorseful penitent than the crazed monarch. His writhings of torment would have been best kept until the denuciation of his madness by Paulina - an icy restraint would have been more effective, I feel, but that is a matter of the interpretation.
I was much taken with the Paulina of Amanda Smith - her display of righteous anger, outrage and underlying compassion was truly remarkable, while Sarah Lynskey as the wronged Queen Hermione, looked radiant when in favour and utterly dignified and majestic under trial.
Stephen Bentley coped very well with the difficult role of Polixenes, King of Bohemia, also under suspicion as the Queen's supposed lover. He too, was more successful as the older man of the second half of the play, than as the dashing young man of the beginning.
Annabel Giles look enchanting as Perdita, Leontes "lost" daughter, and Tito David made a brave stab at Florizel, Polixenes' Son, an unrewarding part, but one that needs dedication if it is not to be a mere cipher.
Space forbids more than a few additional mentions - these must go to Stephen Pratt as the clement Camillo and Kevin Browne as the hilarious rodue Autolyous - both were excellent, while Kim Gerhold and Keith Holmes were a delightful pair of shepherds.
Overall, this can be counted an evening of wonder and romance - a triumph indeed for all concerned, and the three hours simply sped by!
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