The Winter's Tale, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakesepeare's Globe, London. March 2016.
After last autumn's less than brilliant trip to see the Brannagh version of this play I approached this trip with trepidation. Brannagh and Dench are such respected actors and they were performing Shakespeare - perhaps I didn't like the play rather than the production, perhaps it wasn't as bad a we recalled it being...
Nope - The Winter's Take is a fascinating play and I am glad that I gave it another chance.
I know that having seats this time that allowed me to see nearly everything (no seat at the Globe has 100% visibility due to the architecture) was always going to improve the experience but this production was cohesive from start to finish, the actions of all the characters hung together properly. It is still a preposterous, confused plot but acted and directed well you can at least follow the story and see how daft it is.
The house style at the Globe made the jump from court to pastoral more natural and the costumes and setting were consistent, what was tedious at the Garrick became interactive here and also elements from this start to the second half continued all the way through to the denouement making for a much more balanced and consistent production. As ever at the Globe the comedy was played up but this helped The Winter's Tale and added to production far more than playing it straight had done (well for me anyhow).
The use of the candle light was clever here too, and it made the infamous "exit pursued by a bear" part truly creepy, the Playhouse is very dark when all of the candles are extinguished.
The play wasn't without flaws, the first half was at times a little 'shouty' and on more than one occasion actors fell over their lines audibly but on the whole this was a great afternoon at the theatre and proved to Rebecca and I that currently no one does Shakespeare better than the Globe. I'm glad that I have two more productions still to see from this Winter Season.