THEATRE / Critical Round-Up

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ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

The Swan, Stratford-on-Avon

'This is very much classical, late Peter Hall. Where in his youth he looked for decorative romance or political relevance . . . he now goes for narrative speed and musical phrasing. The result can sometimes seem a touch impersonal but its great merit is that little-noticed lines leap illuminatingly out of the text.' Michael Billington, Guardian.

'His solution is to perform it all briskly, fluently, coolly and without obvious prejudice. If we regard Helena and Bertram as heroes, that is fine. If we don't, that is fine too. If we conclude that, as one lordling says, people are 'of mingled yarn, good and bad together', that is probably best of all.' Benedict Nightingale, Times.

'At the end of the first half, I thought that he was overdoing the literalness at the expense of enjoyment. The second half, in which he developed an anti-war theme, is very good indeed. In the end he has directed the play . . . in the way it appears to have been written: an imperfect puzzling piece full of reminders of characters in other Shakespeare plays, but none of them developed.' Malcolm Rutherford, Financial Times.

THE WINTER'S TALE

Royal Shakespeare Theatre,

Stratford-on-Avon

'The great virtue of Noble's production is that it does full justice to the play's astonishing variety of mood. There is also a wonderful freshness of approach. Almost every scene seems to have been newly imagined, full of revealing insights and bright ideas, but you never feel that the director is desperately seeking novelty for novelty's sake.' Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph.

'By treating the play as a child's midwinter night's dream, Noble makes sense of such narrative oddities as the pursuing bear. He also produces some stunning visual effects such as the Apollonian storm that flattens the characters after the denial of the Delphic oracle.' Michael Billington, Guardian.

'Adrian Noble's new production of The Winter's Tale at Stratford comes close to perfection . . . The attention to detail, without distracting from the wider piece, is remarkable.' Malcolm Rutherford, Financial Times.

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