THe Winter’s Tale

Groundling Theatre Company , with Graham Abbey directing, won great accolades for this production last winter, directly contributing to our decision to spend the winter in Stratford and Toronto instead of Arizona. It was the right decision.

This was a great production of a play that can easily go off the rails. Leontes is a great guy one minute and a jealous fiend the next? But the very close proximity to the actors allowed us to see him becoming jealous. Tom McCamus showed it  in his eyes, in a glance, and then a grimace. I think this is a play that would be better served by the close up possibilities of film, where everyone could see these small gestures. It is ironic to think that Shakespeare wrote for the stage, where only the groundlings would have had the chance to see small gestures!

The rest of the cast were equally enthrallling. Michelle Giroux was a lovely and regal Hermione. Lucy Peacock was fierce in her condemnation of Leontes. When she beat him with her hands, it looked like it hurt! And she was dignified and sad when she heard about her husband’s death.  The young lovers, Charlie Gallant and Sarena Parmar were delightful. Patrick Galligan and Roy lewis were great in their supporting roles as were Karen Robinson and Callum McAllister. No weak links. George Meanwell provided all the music in his virtuoso way.

But I can’t write about yhis play without raving about the comics. Brent Carver as Autolychus, Mark Crawford as The Clown / Gaoler and Steven Sutcliffe as the Old Shepherd were hilarious. Laugh out loud funny at some points, sly and grinning at others.

So overall, I loved it. Kudos to Graham Abbey, who appears to have a directong career ahead if he decides to give up acting. He has great friends willing to work with him. Now he just needs a better space to work in.

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About cathyriggall

Theatre junkie, who thinks live theatre is the ultimate form of living on the edge. You never know what will happen when an actor steps on the stage.
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One Response to THe Winter’s Tale

  1. keithhpotter says:

    It’s a pity they had to stage this on the stage of the Wintergarden Theatre, but I did love the intimacy of the staging. With such a great team of actors – the young ones as well as the more senior players – you could enjoy the level of subtle acting that a television production can allow, along with that special frisson from a live performance.

    I have always had trouble with Leontes rapid transition, but McCamus foreshadowed it well here, so it seemed totally believable for once. As was the “statue” transformation at the end.

    It appeared that the pastoral section was pared down compared to other performances we have seen. In any case, it seemed much more part of the rhythm of the play than the usual feeling that somebody changed the channel.

    All in all a great production. I look forward to more work by the Groundling company. Hopefully in a better setting.

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