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Posted by : Stewart McGill on Jan 29, 2005 - 04:29 PM Archive

by William Shakespeare

Propeller Theatre Company at Watermill Theatre to 19 March then tour to 28 May 2005
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm
Runs 3hr One interval

TICKETS: 01635 46044
Review by Stewart McGill, 28th January 2005

Get there - it's stunning
Two years ago Edward Hall and his all male ensemble Propeller staged what many considered the best A Midsummer Night's Dream' since Peter Brook's in Stratford 1970. Now, to follow this comes a revelatory Winter's Tale. This is a thrilling and often ferocious work that seems to bring the living and the dead into a chamber space to retell the tragedy of Leontes downfall.

The Winter's Tale is always a problem. A searing first half in Sicilia is followed by rural hi-jinks in Bohemia which is often a sad let down. Here Propeller give us the play with all its contrasts. Richard Clothier is the most dangerous Leontes I have encountered. His treatment of Simon Scardifield's fragile Hermione is violent and merciless, even aiming a kick at her child-carrying fame in a remorseless attack Scardifield's Queen brought to trial so soon after childbirth paints a pathetic picture as she tries to summon the physical strength to take to the platform in front of us, in role as the citizens of this state. It chills.

Adam Levy's Paulina is a thrilling performance and restores the role as the key part in this deeply disturbing psychological work. When played by Levy the power and danger matches that of Leontes binging them into close up and ferocious contact. A wonderful performance and so brave it beggars belief.

Propeller are a true ensemble and do read the cast list because each one of the company make this work the near perfect Shakespeare event. The comedy is truly hilarious and to see the stage over run with sheep as Tony Bell's outrages Autolycus moves into residence is a rare joy! You will laugh and cry in this show.

The victims are very real here, Hermione and the lost soul Mamillius whose spirit seems to inhabit the very air of the Watermill. He is present in the sands of time that full gently from the roof and in the wisp of smoke briefly seen by an aging Leontes at the close.

Set in a Fellini inspired Mediterranean the stage is a meeting point, a crossroads for souls living and dead. Regular design collaborators Michael Pavelka (set) and Ben Ormerod (lighting) complete this magnificent production.

Set to tour after its residency at Watermill I feel sure it will become one of the years major theatre events but to see it in its own home, a one room chamber where the emotions can be unleashed is as near perfect as theatre can get. Propeller do not simply staged Shakespeare they make the plays live when they feel the time is right. By working together over an extended period of time they are a true ensemble and the hope is that they will continue the adventure. This venture is quite inspiring.

Polixenes: Vince Leigh
Leontes: Richard Clothier
Hermione/Dorcas: Simon Scardifield
Mamilius/Time/Perdita: Tam Williams
Camillo: Bob Barrett
Antigonus/Florizel: Dugald Bruce Lockhart
1st lord of Sicilia/Mopsa: Jules Werner
Officer/Lord of Sicilia/Autolycus: Tony Bell
Emilia/Young Shepherd: James Tucker
1st Lady/Cleomenes: Alasdair Craig
Paulina: Adam Levy
Dion/Old Shepherd: Chris Myles
Mariner: Alasdair Craig

Director: Edward Hall
Designer: Michael Pavelka
Lighting: Ben Ormerod
Music: Tony Bell, Dugald Bruce Lockhart, Jules Werner, Richard Clothier
Movement: Adam Levy
Assistant Director: Adam Penford
Text Edited by: Edward Hall, Roger Warren.
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