One of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, The Winter’s Tale tells of a delusional and paranoid king who tears his family apart… But the initial darkness gives way to redemption as Time leads the characters to an unexpected and joyful conclusion…
Luxembourg audiences will already be familiar with Cheek by Jowl’s work – the company brought productions of Cymbeline and Macbeth to the Grand Théâtre and in 2006 treated audiences to a splendid version of the Jacobean classic The Changeling, as well as more recently, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Since 1981, Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod have created over thirty productions with Cheek by Jowl, for which they have received numerous awards.
Cheek by Jowl has been described as one of Britain’s national treasures whose selling point is its international flair. Donnellan directed The Winter’s Tale in St. Petersburg, in Russian, and this was the first show by a British director to win Russia’s prestigious Golden Mask award for Best Production. Indeed the company is as at home in Luxembourg or Russia as it is in England, yet this internationalism was not part of founding members Donnellan and Ormerod’s grand plan, but rather a result of a burning desire to create great work.
The Winter’s Tale tells the story of King Leontes, King of Sicilia, a ruler consumed by jealousy, and his suspicious delusions surrounding his pregnant wife Hermione, whom he believes to be having an affair with his childhood friend, King Polixenes of Bohemia.
When Leontes believes his unfounded suspicions to be confirmed, he imprisons his wife. Hermione gives birth to a daughter, Perdita, and in his rage, Leontes orders that the baby be abandoned. Hermione and their son Mamilius die of distress, and Leontes is overcome with remorse.
The passage of sixteen years is announced by the character of Time. The grown-up Perdita, who had been taken to Bohemia, is discovered by a shepherd. She falls in love with Florizel, son of Polixenes, and the pair of young lovers are married. Polixenes is consumed with fury at his son’s love for a commoner, and so the newlyweds flee the country, arriving in Sicilia. Perdita is recognised as the daughter of Hermione by the still-mournful Leontes, who is delighted at the discovery. The family is reunited as Hermione is miraculously restored to life.
» One of theatre’s most cutting-edge companies. The Times
» Cheek by Jowl brings fresh life to the classics using intense vivid performances like a laser of light to set the text ablaze. The Guardian
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