Max Webster's take on The Winter's Tale comes with an energising vision
Maureen Beattie, Jimmy Chisholm and Ally Macrae star in this Scottish take on a Shakespeare classic
With a cast full of popular Scottish actors – including Maureen Beattie, Jimmy Chisholm and composer / performer Ally Macrae – Max Webster's direction of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale presents one of the bard's lesser known plays in the spirit of Lyceum artistic director David Greig's energising vision for Edinburgh's venerable venue.
Webster says his Lyceum debut came from he and Greig's shared enthusiasm for Shakespeare and Scottish folk music. 'We like theatre that tells good stories, full of fun but also asking big questions,' he says. The Winter's Tale is known for its stage direction – 'exit pursued by a bear' – but it is also one of Shakespeare's most ambitious works, pairing pastoral comedy and tragedy, following rocky royal romances over a long period.
'It's always been one of my favourite plays,' says Webster. 'I enjoy evenings in the theatre where you don't know what's going to happen, and when you sit down to Macbeth, you know!' With its sudden – and unexpected – leap across 16 years, The Winter's Tale presents the bard at his most daring, not least in his mixture of genres. Even after the tragedy, the plot keeps moving. As Webster concludes: 'Beyond despair and the ways that we inflict pain on each other, might there be redemption?'
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 9 Feb–Sat 4 Mar.