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A Magazine for Sheffield
Live / stage review

The Winter’s Tale at The Crucible.

It’s no moot point to reiterate that Shakespeare isn’t easy to pull off. We’ve all left theatres appreciating the quality of a production but privately questioning whether we actually enjoyed it. It takes a special kind of production to make Shakespeare both compelling and accessible. Paul Miller’s production of The Winter’s Tale is exactly this kind of theatre. The Winter’s Tale is arguably one of Shakespeare’s strangest plays and it certainly isn’t easy to put on. The stark contrast between the brutal and profoundly dark first half and the folksy, humorous and enchanting second half mean that, done well, this play has the potential to offer everything you could want. Done badly, on the other hand, this play can limp along, jarring against itself and confusing the audience. It’s clear that Miller has faith in the material he is working with, because every potentially unconvincing moment comes off as a challenge to the audience rather than an inconsistency. Leontes’ sudden onset of jealousy was confusing and frightening, but totally convincing. His subsequent reversal and expression of remorse again was difficult; it presented us with a question of whether we could forgive, but by no means felt far-fetched. This is because this production has taken the time to let The Winter’s Tale come into its own. Miller has achieved that precious feat of illuminating a play, bringing it to full life rather than imposing upon it, and such good direction meant that the acting was absolutely impeccable. It wasn’t just polished, it was genuinely fascinating to watch. As Leontes, Daniel Lapaine captured every disturbing nuance of a man wracked with maddening jealousy. Claire Price as Hermoine was equally as brilliant. Hermoine is a character with a lot of depth. Her goodness is by no means passive and shallow. She’s arguably a very feminist character and Price got this spot on. Mentions should also go to Patrick Walshe McBride and Keir Charles, who were outstanding in the second half to the point where scenes were more than just humorous, but consistently very funny something rarely achieved with Shakespeare. There’s too much to say about this performance. Go and see it. It will probably be one of the best productions of Shakespeare you’ll ever have the privilege of seeing. )

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