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Roundhouse (London): Previewed 1 April, Opened 12 April 2002, Closed 19 June 2002 transferred
Royal Shakespeare Theatre (Stratford): Run 31 July to 2 Nov 2002
Matthew Warchus returns to the RSC to direct Shaksepeare's The Winter's Tale with designs by Vivki Mortimer.
The story of King Leontes' obsessive jealousy and his subsequent grief stricken mourning in the sterile court of Sicilia, is complemented by the rural idyll of Bohemia where Leontes' lost daughter grows up unaware of her true heritage.
Epic Theatre in an Epic New Space: For the first time in over thirty years, the RSC performs in The Roundhouse in North London. This dynamic, flexible and truly exciting theatre space will house three of Shakespeare's late epic plays - The Winter's Tale, The Tempest and Pericles - presented in the round with a choice of arena style seating or promenade (standing) tickets, where you are able to move amongst the action.
The Roundhouse offers basic washroom and catering facilities which includes a bar and light refreshments. There is no formal foyer area and doors will open 60 minutes prior to performances.
These three plays will transfer to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from July to October 2002. Booking will open in the Spring 2002.
News about the show
On 17 December 2001: Preliminary details of the RSC's Spring/Summer 2002 Season where announced which included this production to be performed at the Roundhouse in London.
On 16 January 2002: Full booking details along with the performance schedule for this production's run at the Roundhouse in London where announced - booking opens on 12 February 2002. It was also announced that this production will transfer to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from July to October 2002 with further details to be announced.
On 2 April 2002: Due to a delay in the converting of the Roundhouse for use by the Royal Shakespeare Company the first three preview performances of The Winter's Tale where cancelled. The first preview took place on Monday 1 April. The production was due to have its Opening Press Night on Tuesday 9 April - but following the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and the announcement that the funeral will take place in London on Tuesday 9 April - the Royal Shakespeare Company have decided to delay the Opening Press Night of The Winter's Tale by three days until Friday 12 April 2002.
On 27 May 2002: It was announced that the performances on Friday 31 May (evening) and Saturday 1 June (matinee and evening) have been cancelled.
Extracts from the reviews:
"What a sensational dash the Royal Shakespeare Company cuts in Matthew Warchus's big, bold blast of a production, which riskily locates The Winter's Tale in modern America. Its spectacular stagecraft and concept captivates... Purists, however, may condemn this Winter's Tale as a misrouted, magical mystery tour that dazzles us but finds too little fresh to say. And apart from Douglas Hodge's riveting, shaven-headed Leontes, whose sexual jealousy is convincingly played as prelude to mental breakdown, the acting is oddly bland..." The London Evening Standard
"...Warchus wants us to see The Winter's Tale in cinematic terms: the first half as 1940s film noir, the second as an evocation of a Coen brothers rural Appalachia. But the use of an American setting instantly raises problems. The first, since all but three of the cast are British, is that the whole thing feels inauthentic. Even more seriously... here you have a cast struggling not only with a variety of American accents but with a circular space and an unfamiliar acoustic. Time and again, the first half of a line registers clearly while the second is lost in an aural blur... Warchus's staging is, however, technically ingenious... But ultimately this is a magical fable about forgiveness and renewal rather than a movie script..." The Guardian
"...Matthew Warchus's production proves exactly the kind of hit the RSC so desperately needs. It's fresh, intelligent, and cleverly aimed at young audiences without alienating old die-hards. The performance space in this marvellously atmospheric Victorian engine shed is stunning, with part of the audience promenading and the rest seated in steeply raked seats in a configuration resembling a bullring. The effect is intimate and epic... Warchus's production isn't perfect. Like most RSC shows, it is 30 minutes too long, and too many of today's young actors find it hard enough to deliver Shakespeare intelligibly in English accents, never mind American. What is satisfyingly right, however, is the spirit of the production and the feeling that both cast and audience are responding to the play afresh. It really does seem to mark a new start for the company..." The Daily Telegraph
"...Matthew Warchus's Americanised production of The Winter's Tale is full of fire and energy, Douglas Hodge is a raging Leontes, Anastasia Hille an impressive Hermione. And the grizzly bear in the Appalachian Mountains that are now Shakespeare's Bohemia - the sheep shearing is a bluegrass music festival - is the best in memory." The Daily Mail