Spellbound in the forest

The Winter's Tale, Red Rose Chain, Rendlesham Forest, until August 30 (check individual dates) www.theatreintheforest.comIt's just an everyday story of country folk and Kings; jealousy and murderous rage, death, revenge and redemption.

Dave Vincent

The Winter's Tale, Red Rose Chain, Rendlesham Forest, until August 30 (check individual dates) www.theatreintheforest.com

It's just an everyday story of country folk and Kings; jealousy and murderous rage, death, revenge and redemption.

If Will S had been writing today he would probably be turning out scripts for EastEnders or Emmerdale. In his tragic-comedy distrust turns to murderous plots, narrow escapes and a baby is abandoned in a forest.


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This 10th anniversary Red Chain Forest production has seen the opportunities of performing under the stars exploited to the full. Each new show has become part of the forest landscape.

The setting itself is magical, a stage of wood chips and a simple set of boxes, bales and other movable objects with a back drop of pine trees with the moths flitting in the spotlights rising into the sky. For the audience on holiday there is even a homage to the seaside puppet show

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Personally I hate people, in a theatre or cinema, who insist on telling their friends what happens next. So I apologize now for this.

There is a murder. The bear did it.

In this Shakespeare tale childhood friends King Leontes of Sicilia (Jimmy Grimes) and King Polixenes of Bohemia (Joseph Pitcher) are divided when Leontes accuses his queen Hermione, (Natasha Pring) of adultery, and worse. The suspicion grows and affects all those around them. Shakespeare gives Leontes some of his most angry speeches.

In this production the anger and bile is tempered by some great comic performances, David Redgrave as the Old Shepherd and Dan Starkey as roguish Autolycus, and there is music and dance, puppets and sheep.

There is resolution at the end, of course, at the end of a complicated whirl of confusion, mystery and magic.

There are great performances throughout. The two Kings are powerful, the Queen (Natasha Pring) is the right mix of playful and haughty and Joanne Carrick gets some of the best lines as the judgmental Paulina, who speaks up for the wronged wife and does some plotting herself.

This production has been tailored for the setting and trimmed a bit to make two manageable halves..

It was great to see whole family groups, from young babes in arms and toddlers up to elderly grandparents, together watching and enjoying. The youngsters, even the smaller ones sitting on blankets at the front, were enthralled by the rich words, music and dance. One was even inspired to heckle!

A new generation of actors is born.

And at the end some of them were quickly on their feet, copying the dance moves they had just seen. Spellbound, you could say.

David Vincent

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