I have a confession. Call it a Tuesday afternoon confession. Going to see Shakespeare usually bores me. It is a plebeian, plebe's response but so liberating to say so. The exact same liberating, sleepy feeling that happens as soon as The Tempest, Hamlet, King Lear reaches its long drawn out and overdue curtain call.
Updated versions have never convinced me, always feeling slightly twee and overzealous in their approach for the 'updated but thematically still relevant' 20th/ 21st century representations of the 'bard'. I have of course appreciated the magical fairy light of Regent Park's theatre on a midsummer's dream night and reading Julius Caesar aged 12 with Mrs Reid but my Shakespeare festivals have remained limited since Theatre Studies A-level.
I went to see Sam Mendes' production of The Winter's Tale at the Old Vic.
Seeing this production is like eating a bowl of berries. Raspberries, blueberries, and loganberries to be precise. Followed by a large peach. Hearing the language and the phrasing was beautiful. You could almost taste it. And you wanted more. The production is sumptuously designed (costume, set and lighting design) and all well-executed by accomplished, imaginative actors.
This production made me feel privileged to hear these words.
A lot of fuss has been made about the transatlantic bridge project in recent press coverage. I'm not too sure, apart from the accomplishment of securing work visas for cast and crew, why there is such applause over bringing renowned American and British actors together. However, on a personal note, this production changed how I view Shakespeare.