My first is simply; ‘great’, this sounds interesting, and attempting what has already been done with any of Shakespeare’s works is setting one’s self an incredibly high bar. The second however is a thought filled with fear that the end result will be filled with cringe-worthy references and awful jokes.
The Royal Lyceum’s rework of ‘The Winter’s Tale’ involved James Robertson re-writing sections of the play to add a Scottish ambience – and it got the mix between modern additions and the original work almost perfect. Almost.
The scenes set in Sicilia, which were updated to Edinburgh, were flawless – with simple sets and perfect lighting putting all of the focus on the character and dialogue; freeze frame asides and monologues capturing the essence of each character even as they fell to slow motion or stood static. A live band provided a soundtrack essential to put you right in the middle of the story.
The famous “Exit pursued by the bear” was delivered surprisingly well through roaring volume and giant shadows and the modern day updates to Sicilia worked subtle wonders – the oracle of the blood test, the updated prison uniform and even the use of mobile phones was surprisingly welcome.
The scenes in Fife/Bohemia were less impressive, however. The Scots translation was appreciated and very convincingly delivered by Scott Mackie’s Florizel and Fiona Wood’s Perdita, but the scenes did often descend into pantomime madness; ridiculous, stereotyping costumes and a small stream of awkward modern day call-outs enough to make you uncomfortably conscious.
Nevertheless, all was cured back in Sicilia for both the plot and production. Edge-of-your-seat tension and awe was rife through the stunning finale. All in all, it was a really fantastic performance.
Stuart Kenny 4/5