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I always enjoy Breakaway’s productions, and the performance space at the Inn on the Park suits Shakespeare very well, it creates a nice ambience that carries through to the cast.

A strong cast for this production, and we were very lucky with the weather too!

Costuming was good, it seemed to fit very well, even though it was relatively modern.

The play kept its pace up really well, although I would have liked more attention to have been brought to the opening of both Acts, as the audience, despite listening to the music, were still chatting when the actors started speaking, so some of the first lines were missed or indistinct, where they needed to grab our attention.

Generally I felt the actors spoke too much to the sides of the performance space, and not enough to the front (with some exceptions of course), which again meant we had to really listen hard to catch all of the lib.  I thought that Hermione, Leontes, Florizel, Perdita and Autolycus projected particularly well, wherever on stage they were placed.

The ladies had very good hairdo’s, which always lift the standard of costume – I especially loved Hermione’s opening and closing styles.

Kaia Davies created a good character as Mamillius, and projected well, although again she was a little too sideways on when speaking with Emilia and the Lady-in-Waiting, but she appeared interested and engaged well with the other characters, a good achievement.

I also thought Teagan Davies created a very pretty young girl, and again was engaged whilst on stage.

Simon Ellis as Leontes showed the many sides of his character, from the tyrannical king, to the doting husband and father, both passionate and anguished – a good portrayal.

Abigail Giles was a lovely Hermione – again much passion, anger and grief was sewn into this complex character – very well done.

Graeme Shaw was a very upright and watchful Polixenes – confronted with his son wanting to marry a supposed shepherdess, again a good, if slightly laid back portrayal.

Camillo gave Clare Waller a chance to give us the differing sides to her character, which I thought she accomplished well.

Brigitte Taylor looked whimsical as Emilia, and created a really sympathetic character, and I also liked the characters created by Brigitte, Anne Hollis and Vicki Harris in the Shearing Feast scene, very colourful and bright.

Margi Skinner was a very good Shepherd, she projected well, and I liked her relationship with Shelley Healy, who created a good Clown.

John Kensett, with his usual attention to detail, created an excellent schemer as Autolycus, he switched well between the different character elements, bringing a good contrast to the other characters.

I loved the pairing of Conor Gray and Hannah Barnes as Florizel and Perdita,

they created a good relationship and were bright and joyful, which again created a lovely contrast to the other more weighty characters.

Saleema Davies as Paulina made an excellent foil to Leontes and his cronies, I particularly liked the ‘statue’ scene at the end, which she introduced and wove the story round well. I really liked the look she gave as she exited with the jailer – it is small things like that which really help create the character.

Leontes Gentlemen, David Martin, Jon Baker and Anne Hollis, all created contrasting characters, whilst keeping their concern and interest in the proceedings.

I felt that David Martin’s portrayal of Antigonus was a little quiet and understated at first, but he seemed to add depth when he was ‘losing’ the baby.

I thoroughly enjoyed the storm and the creation of noise made by moving the hedge that surrounds the performance space, and the ‘bear’ chasing Antigonus, with the body parts being thrown onto the stage – very funny.

Jon Baker filled a number of small roles, with good and diverse portrayals, he also impressed with good diction and projection.

A most enjoyable evening, with a very understandable and first-class version of this Shakespeare play.

Breakaway Theatre Company

A Winter’s Tale

Director: Jill Davies

review date: 29th July 2016

The Inn on the Park, St.Albans


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