By Ralph Wainer
What do you think makes ‘The Winter’s Tale’ different to the majority of Shakespeare’s plays?
It is one of his last plays. As far as I can tell, the big dramas that everyone knows like Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet are more composed than this one. The script of The Winter’s Tale seems in a sense ‘rushed’ and I feel that he could have made much more out of the story. The play was written during his late career when his style and themes became darker. After he wrote the play he was forced to include certain monologues, like that of the character ‘Time’ because those who put it on stage didn’t think that it would make sense without it. I don’t know what he had in mind for the story, yet I think there was definitely more to the play that what we see now.
What can you find in this play which isn’t in any other Shakespeare’s plays?
The most interesting feature in this play is its ambivalence. The first three acts are straight-up Shakespearean tragedy and then starting with the fourth act and continuing on to the fifth the play becomes so bright and light. I think it is even brighter than the famous comedies such as Much Ado About Nothing because it is a pure comedy without any setbacks or underlying villainy.
So there is no villain in the play?
You could say the play has a ‘bad-guy’, but it is very clear who this villain is from the first three acts. Once you reach the fourth act, the play is just pure comedy. You then see an assembly of entirely new actors which you haven’t seen in the first three acts who then take away the dramatic edge.
If you were an actor in the play, which character would you like to play most?
Well, the obvious choice seems to be Autolycus because, as the comedian, he is supposed to be the Shakespearean rogue that just pranks everyone and means no actual harm. But I’d also love to play Leontes, the jealous tyrant who just lets his emotions run wild. I think that is something that not many characters are allowed to do, not only in Shakespeare, but also in contemporary drama. We don’t often see characters that are left to run loose without any actual constraints on their own emotions.
Why should an audience come and watch this play?
I myself have not come across many Shakespearean tragi-comedies, so that is a big plus and it’s also a play which you don’t get to see put on very often. Although some people may not be able to relate to Hamlet’s big tragedy, that of losing his father, everyone can relate to themes like jealously, ruined friendship and how regretful it can be to act on one’s own impulse. It’s a very relatable play and it’s open to many interpretations. If you have not experienced Shakespeare’s crude and obscene side yet but want to, this is a play you’d definitely like to see!
‘The Winter’s Tale’ will be performed at The Assembly Rooms from May 8th-10th.