Creation - The Winter's Tale
5th February to 3rd April 2004.
From the Newbury Weekly News.
Chill wind thrills
Creation Theatre: The Winter's Tale, in the Spiegeltent, BMW Plant, Oxford, until April 3
With Creation Theatre Company's typically bold sense of style and place they have brought Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale to a Spiegeltent (Mirror Tent) just in front of the BMW Mini Plant in Oxford. A venue for Marlene Dietrich, audiences will be falling in love again with Creation once they enter this novel theatre-in-the-round.
Audiences sit decadently by tables, charmingly-lit by tea-lights, while eating freshly cooked crêpes and sipping glasses of wine.
The rather louche carvings, turquoise and claret sheet roof and, of course, mirrors, add a special theatricality to the ambience.
Director Justin Butcher, of Scararmouche Jones fame, uses the full scope of the arena to bring us a tale that thrills us as much as it chills us.
The Winter's Tale freezes the soul when the tyrannical King of Sicily, Leontes (Andrew Harrison), falsely accuses his blameless wife Hermione (Sasha Waddell) of sleeping with the King of Bohemia, Polixenes (Darren Ormandy) and making Hermione pregnant.
Hermione is imprisoned and made to suffer the equivalent of a show trial. Leontes' new baby daughter is taken to die on a foreign shore. Although courtiers attempt to protect the innocent, the god Apollo punishes Leontes by causing his young heir Mamillius to die.
Like the murder of Macduff's children in Macbeth, this is a truly shocking event. Leontes becomes a penitent, depressed and regretting his folly.
All subsequent acts, which include a miraculous family reunion with a grown up (and gorgeous) daughter Perdita (Sarah McNeale) who has fallen in love with Bohemia's son Florizel (handsome Tristan Bayne), and the re-emergence of Hermione after a bit of stage magic by courtier Paulina (Katy Feeney), cannot remove Leontes' grief for his son.
All the cast have replica dolls which are suspended on numerical hooks around the stage, related image to Hermione's appearance as a statue. The final, awesomely silent, moment has genial fool and crook Autolycus (a scene-stealing Justin Webb) raise Mamillius' puppet into the heavens.
The lasting emotion is not of reconciliation but of the devastation caused when a powerful leader acts without verifiable evidence of a crime. Terrific acting; book immediately.