Theatre Review: A Winter's Tale - Landor Theatre ✭✭✭✭

A Winter’s Tale
Landor Theatre

The Winter’s Tale has been labelled by some critics as one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’, due to its mixture of psychological drama, bawdy comedy, magical occurrences and a seemingly improbable happy ending. However, whilst these chaotic qualities may hamper a straightforward staging at The Globe, Andrew Keates’s new production at the Landor proves that they also make the source material ripe for adaptation as a musical – a more fluid genre that can easily encompass these variations in tone.

With some slight changes to Shakespeare’s original characters and plot, A Winter’s Tale is a highly enjoyable adaptation that showcases many exceptional vocal talents. The story deals with the rivalry between two kings, Leontes of Sicilia (Pete Gallagher) and Polixines of Bohemia (Alastair Brookshaw). Leontes suspects his pregnant wife Ekaterina (Helen Power) of having an affair with Polixines, and throws her in prison whilst instructing his manservant Camillo (Christopher Blades) to poison Polixines. He also refuses to believe the baby is his, and orders her to be killed. The baby, Perdita, is abandoned on the shore of Bohemia, but rescued by two shepherds. The fate of the two kingdoms become further intertwined when Perdita (Abigail Matthews) grows up and falls in love with Florizel (Fra Fee), the son of Polixines.

Whilst the play has a large cast of characters and a winding plot, this production never felt rushed or overcomplicated – each character was instantly memorable, and all of the actors made the absolute most of their part. In that light, it was difficult to pick a favourite, although Ciaran Joyce is hilarious as opportune thief and loveable rogue Rob (who leads a particularly memorable song on the theme of sheep); Helena Blackman (who you may recognise from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?) is brilliantly feisty as Ekaterina’s outspoken friend Paulina; and Pete Gallagher makes a convincingly raging and jealous king Leontes. There are songs pretty much throughout which must make this production particularly demanding for the actors, but none of them faltered on a note. The comic scenes in Bohemia at the opening of the second half were also particularly well-done, although there was a lot of variation in the accents of the various rural-dwelling characters! I was also a little disappointed that more wasn’t made of the original text’s most famous stage direction: ‘exit, pursued by a bear’.

These are minor quibbles however, as I found this a really enjoyable evening’s entertainment, with an incredibly talented cast and brilliantly-crafted music and lyrics. The message of love providing redemption and hope for the future gave the production an inspiring and uplifting ending. A perfect winter’s tale to brighten up a winter’s evening!

Four stars out of five ✭✭✭✭

Review by Emma Curry

A Winter’s Tale
Wednesday 7th November - Saturday 1st December 2012
Wednesday 7th - Sun 11th November 2012 (Preview Performances)
Monday 12th November 2012 @ 7.30pm (Press Night)
Tuesday - Thursday & Saturday (Evening Performances 7.30pm)
Friday (Evening Performances 7pm)
Saturday & Sunday (Matinees 3pm)

Tickets £18 (Concessions £15)
£10 Student Tickets (Please note, that student tickets are only available vis telephone bookings or at the box office in person, provided that a valid student card is presented with photo ID. Only 1 x ticket per student. Group bookings are available for educational institutions. Please telephone the Landor Theatre for further information on 020 7737 7276.

The Landor Theatre, 70 Landor Road, Clapham North, SW9 9PH
Box Office: 020 7737 7276     
Online Bookings:
Nearest Tube: Clapham North (two minutes away from the theatre).
Further information available at