Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Winter's Tale

photo: Joan Marcus

I wasn't impressed with what he did with the same mix of British and American actors in Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, also currently at BAM, but Sam Mendes' production of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale is a wondrous, gorgeous gem. One of The Bard's late dramas, the play is challenging to stage (partly because of its fluctuations in tone) but Mendes has scaled all the action cohesively and guided the actors to emotionally accessible, beautifully judged and articulated performances. Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack, Rebecca Hall, Ethan Hawke and Richard Easton are all outstanding; it's too rare a pleasure to see an ensemble so thoroughly comfortable with Shakespeare's language and rhythms. In previous productions I've seen, the play's finale has never worked; here, I was moved to tears.

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