The Winter’s Tale

After Boskone last weekend I spent Monday and Tuesday in DC, and Wednesday and Thursday in NY (and took Friday off for a personal project which I shall describe in due course). I was too occupied with work and sleep to socialise much – will try and give friends in the relevant cities a shout next time – but my one excursion was a pretty good one, to see The Winter’s Tale in Brooklyn on Thursday night.

It’s not a play I know at all – literally my only previous encounter with it was as background to Franz Fühmann’s short story “Böhmen am Meer” which I did for German A-level, and I haven’t reached it yet in my Arkangel Shakespearethon. The running time of the Brooklyn version was two and a half hours counting the interval, so I guess it may have been cut a bit. The key dramatic point is the jealousy of King Leontes of Sicilia over his wife Hermione’s friendship with King Polixenes of Bohemia; their baby daughter is abandoned and the end of the play has her reuniting with the family and all end happily paired off. There’s quite a strong contrast between the tragic drama of the first half and the slightly magical comedy of the resolution, and I was surprised at the number of snickers from the audience at some of the earlier lines which seemed to me dramatic rather than humorous.

This production is ever so slightly star-studded: directed by Sam Mendes, cast including Simon Russell Beale (Leontes), Ethan Hawke (Autolycus), Sinead Cusack (Paulina) and Rebecca Hall (Hermione). All of them really impressed me, as did Richard Easton in the smaller parts of the Old Shepherd and Time. The Sicilians are by and large played by Brits, and the Bohemians mostly by Americans; I particularly liked the bucolic bluegrass setting of the scenes with the Bohemian shepherds, though felt the Sicilian court was a bit less adventurously staged. But generally, I had a great time.

1 thought on “The Winter’s Tale

  1. Cameron is obviously a buffoon who has harmed UK interests. However I think the key issue Europe-wide is the attempt to effectively ban centrist Keynsian economics solutions. The problem for Europe is not productivity, which is high, but demand which is faltering. As Rennie puts it:

    if the new euro-plus fiscal union adopts its planned restrictions on taxation and spending, you could easily imagine a future general election in which one party’s manifesto, full of Keynesian stimulus policies or tax-cuts, is run through a think-tank’s calculators and discovered to be euro-incompatible, while a rival party’s plan fits the criteria handed down from Brussels. At which point, it will surely be argued, it is pointless to vote for the first party, because the fiscal union will stop them from doing what they promise. That feels politically very dodgy to me.

    It’s politically dodgy, and more importantly its economically suicidal. If Europe gets trapped into permanent unworkable monetarist policy, it’s like turning their backs on any hope of recovery.

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