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Review of The Winter's Tale performed by University Of Northampton BA Actors at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

While I had tremendous fun with Merry Wives two days before, I feared The Winter's Tale for one being Shakespeare and tow the fact it wasn't a comedy. This was bad enough for me, and then it turned out that it was Shakespeare doing Greek as well, which was another slight problem that had reared its head in the past. I don't do old language, I am with all this new stuff innit.

So I am afraid that I had trouble with this one, but never because it was of a poor quality. It was obvious that there was some superb, super strong acting going on. I commented in a rather ugly way during the interval that for me proper, giving it some welly acting brings the spit levels to the forefront. During Winter's Tale there was some epic spit moments, particularly during the first half where the truly big speeches came.

Giving it some real welly for me was the epic performance of Sophie-Rose Darby as the "doomed" Hermione. Her speech in court was quite staggering in every single way and one of the best moments I have seen in a University play. Also giving it some clout (hope you like all this proper language I am using) was Stephanie Waugh as Paulina, laying into the gentlemen in quite a way including the poor old downtrodden husband Antigonus (Charlie Clee). I have seen Charlie before in Masque and had absolutely loved his performance in Our Town. In this he bought a softness of character that I felt was pretty much otherwise absent from the very heavy first half, and I was sad to see his untimely demise. However what an absolutely surreal and well staged scene that was.

Although a smaller but pivotal role, I did enjoy Jack Alexander as Shepherd, and whether dealing with Perdita (Annalise Taylor) had taken its toll or not, he somehow seemed to be the only character to have aged in the sixteen years later second half other than Perdita herself, but she was a baby so that doesn't count. I am sure she wasn't too much trouble though as she was very sweetly played by Annalise.

Finally overseeing all the grief and bedlam is Jaryd Headley as Leontes. A totally solid and dominating performance as a generally unsympathetic character (putting it quite lightly), taking the emotions through all the foibles and generally horrible characteristics in an excellent way.

There were many more wonderful performances on show but I sadly had a little trouble sorting the names and people out for the others, my problem not theirs. If you haven't been mentioned, don't take offence. I shall no doubt glow over your performances in the future more manageable (for me) shows to come.

Finally we have what will henceforth be known a Beargate to deal with. Watching The Winter's Tale engineered two magic moments of emphasis as to what my Small Mind moniker is quite relevant. I first draw your attention to Exhibit A in my webpage title above where I steal the famous Shakespeare stage direction for my own nefarious needs. Well until I was informed by fellow theatre goers Mr and Mrs Mudbeast, I was unaware that it was in The Winter's Tale. Bill is see, eminently quotable, I give him that. Even if he isn't my friend. Not that I need to know where the quotes come from. Now Exhibit B is even more painful, it is never big or clever to hope that a man in the bear suit is in fact a polar bear rather than a panda bear, because you have mistaken the fact that a panda bear isn't a bear, when in actual fact you are thinking of a koala (not bear). This is embarrassing enough if it is in familiar company, but then when you bring it to the attention of the director during the interval, it is a veritable disaster. Fortunately I am big enough to realise my (many) mistakes and therefore I bow down on my confused bear knowledge. However I do blame the heat of the Underground for my lapse.

So a wonderful production with director Jamie Rocha Allan using the Underground space in a clever way. I haven't seen the main doors worked so much into a production, and actually I would have been fascinated to watch this from the outside to see all the maneuverings going on. Great stuff even if it is not quite for me but performers with much promise for the third year productions.


Performance reviewed: Saturday 6th June, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton.

The Winter's Tale was one of twos shows being performed at the Royal & Derngate by the University Of Northampton BA (Hons) Actors between Thursday 4th June and Saturday 6th June, 2015

Details of both can be found here:
The Merry Wives Of Windsor
The Winter's Tale

Details of Royal & Derngate can be found by visiting their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

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