Review: The Winter’s Tale performed by Northern Broadsides
November 11, 2015
In a tale that spans 16 years and encompasses your everyday intense jealousy, imagined affairs, wrongful imprisonment, and child abandonment, Northern Broadsides and its multi-talented cast give Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale a dose of energy as explosive as New Year’s fireworks.
And at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, New Year’s Eve in 1999 is exactly where we begin. King Leontes (played masterfully by Conrad Nelson, who also directs) suspects that his expectant Queen Hermione is carrying a secret affair with his friend Polixenes as well as a child leading to her imprisonment, Polixenes fleeing the court and the death of the Prince.
After the despair of the first half which is reflected in the gloomy and hooded palace set, the second half brings time right up to the present day with Bohemia appearing as if it could be a festival frequented by hipsters. The main reason for this is the music, or rather the live music where every instrument under the sun (I definitely saw an accordion at one point) is seamlessly swapped between different cast members to welcome us into the life of the now teenage Perdita.
Another notable figure who simply cannot go unnoticed because he was that memorable is Autolycus played by Mike Hugo. The majority of the smiles in the audience were due to his Dylan impressions as well as his Mancunian busker slash petty thief, who succeeds at stealing by hysterically ‘losing a limb’.
As the conflict between urban and the pastoral continues and mistaken identities are solved, Perdita is returned to her home and all are invited to see a statue of Hermione by Ruth Alexander-Rubin’s fearless Paulina. Though on paper the scene is so unbelievable that to portray it would prove an enormous challenge for a contemporary company, music provided again by the cast functions as its saving grace and turns the awakening of the statue and the production as a whole into an absolute delight for the eyes and ears.
Dukes, Lancaster: November 10th-14h
Playhouse, Liverpool: November 17th-21st
Viaduct, Dean Clough, Halifax: November 24th-28th