Friday, 25 September 2009

The Winter's Tale

We went to see Simon Godwin's very effective production of that strangest of plays The Winter's Tale the other evening, and it's been haunting me ever since. It was the first time I'd found myself sitting in the front row of a theatre, with Paulina's spittle flying over my head in the spotlights as she rounds on Leontes, and making eye contact with Time and the old shepherd -- all three played by the same remarkable actor, Golda Rosheuvel. It was an interesting encounter with the reality and transparency of that theatrical "fourth wall".

After a while, Shakespeare's themes in the late plays can start to seem almost obsessive. Irrational fathers and husbands destroy stability through jealous rages, and in the ensuing chaos children are thrown aside and lost, strange unions and separations occur, and women move determinedly to the centre of gravity, faced with the idiocy of their men. Miracles of art and coincidence bring reconciliation of a sort after long passages of time, but a heavy price is paid, and at the end some bitter outsider is left out in the cold. People have often commented on the parallels of The Winter's Tale with the story of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, but there's surely something deeper, more personally tragic, working its way to the surface here. We'll never know, of course, but sometimes some appalling personal truth seems so very close to erupting out of these plays. Maybe that's part of what has made them so compelling for 400 years. Perhaps one day, a production will be so insightful, so compelling, that the whole Shakespeare phenomenon will be laid to rest, like an exorcism. Not yet though, old mole, not yet.


Meanwhile, here are two flags I found this week, window hunting:




5 comments:

Leigh said...

Flags - beautifully seen and captured Mike.

sarangkot said...

One of my favourite films is A Tale of Winter by Eric Rohmer, and one of my favourite books is Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. The Winter's Tale may be difficult and late but it's surprisingly influential.

Mike C. said...

Thanks, Leigh -- I am strangely pleased with them both, and I'm glad that has communicated itself in some way.

The "Mirrors, Windows, Walls" project seems to have passed the critical point where it starts to "cook" all by itself.

Mike C. said...

I'll check those out, sarangkot, as I'm feeling very influenced indeed at the moment.

I simply cannot get over the boldness, in or around 1600, of having the wife of a courtier verbally (and, in this production, physically) attack a king for his idiocy... You can imagine the uncomfortable shifting on the benches at the Blackfriars Theatre ...

Mike C. said...

BTW, Leigh, I took a look at your website: I have to say, that's some of the best work I've seen recently. Your feel for colour and light-touch composition is very distinctive. Do you show work in Australia? Your site is a little uninformative on CV, etc.

Almost enough to persuade me struggling with a view camera is worth it...

Mike