City Lit Blog

A Winter's Tale at City Lit: review

Story added 15th Jan 2018

A Winter's Tale at City Lit (image from the dress rehearsal)


In December 2017, actors from the City Lit Theatre Company presented a new version of one of William Shakespeare's most popular plays, 'The Winter's Tale'.

Directly by Petina Hapgood, the production ran in the John Lyon's Theatre at City Lit between 6-9 December 2017.

Ade Dasilva, from City Lit's 'Get Together and Read' group, went along to review it...

A Winter's Tale, a review by Ade Dasilva

As I sat in the John Lyon’s Theatre, eagerly anticipating the start of 'The Winter’s Tale', the song 'In the Bleak Midwinter' sweetly filled the air, gently reminding me that Christmas was indeed on its way, and I swiftly needed to buy those presents for friends and loved ones. These worries were soon replaced with the actor’s beautiful singing. I kept looking around as numerous voices joined in, but I couldn’t see anyone, and I realised that others in the audience were doing the same. I was pleased to be amongst friends (from the Get Together and Read group) and before long I was sucked into the storyline.

'The Winter’s Tale' is about a neurotic and angry king whose unreasonable jealousy sadly tears his family apart. Leontes, King of Sicilia, falsely accuses his wife Hermione of having an affair with his childhood friend Polixenes, King of Bohemia. And, we soon see the innocent Hermione brought before an angry mob of men pointing the finger at her while she defends herself. 

While watching this horrendous scene unfold, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this play and the moment in 'Much Ado about Nothing' (which my City Lit reading group saw at the Globe last year) when Claudio accuses Hero of sleeping with other men on their wedding day. Anyway, when Hermione learned about the death of her son, the prince (the one who opened with 'In the Bleak Midwinter'), she fainted, and we later learn that she died. In 'Much Ado', Hero also fainted and faked her death. The play has a time span of 16 years and travels across Europe from court to country. I couldn’t help admiring how magical everything felt. The Christmas spirit was in the air: forgiveness, reconciliation and a new beginning.

This was my first time watching a play in this theatre and I must say I was very impressed with this new version of a timeless classic; the production was smooth, the music appropriate and the cast excellent; you could feel the anger and confusion on Hermione’s face as she was accused of being unfaithful in front of all those men. In addition, Autolyca, who is a man in the original text, was a convincing con artist. I couldn’t stop laughing when she pickpocketed money from the clown while outrageously flirting with him. Also, her performance as a belly dancer has encouraged me to sign up for lessons in the New Year, a much more attractive way of burning those extra calories (compared to hitting the gym) which are always gained during the Christmas season.

The ticket also included a free drink of your choice from the bar and I got my first taste of Pinot Grigio – red – truly delicious. And afterwards I went to say hi to the cast, as you do, and they were lovely. I’m already looking forward to watching more performances from City Lit.

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