MA Texts and Contexts Week 4

The Winter’s Tale – Cork Opera House 22/10/11

“If this be magic, let it be an art” (Act 3, Sc 5).

Corcadorca’s production of The Winter’sTale proved to be both magical and artistic. The combination of acting ability, lighting, imagery and musical score come together seamlessly. The magic of the play is captured in subtle ways such as the use of projection screens to produce a holographic sprinkling of snow over the stage, and the voiceover of time personified. These same projection screens are also cleverly used to display Apollo’s oracle:

Hermione is chaste;
Polixenes blameless;
Leontes a jealous tyrant;
his innocent babe truly begotten;
and the king shall live without an heir, if that
which is lost be not found. 

(Act 3, Sc 2)

Time itself is also ever-present in the form of a suspended clock positioned high over the stage, but always in view. The difficulties ofthe play are also well-handled. The transition of time is paralleled with the transition from tragedy to comedy. The play effortlessly moves from the almost monochromatic court scenes to cheerful pastoral second half, while still maintaining coherency. The famous stage direction Exit, pursued by a bear is adapted well here. The shadowy shape-shifting bear helps to subtly change the play towards the direction of the comedy which largely occupies the second half. This comedy is brilliantly displayed by Autolycus,the shepherd and the clown, although at times the clown over-played the simplicity of his character. Overall, a well-executed production that overcomes the complexities of The Winter’s Tale to produce something both magical and masterful.

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