The Bridge Project: The Winter’s Tale

I am an out and out movie person. Theater is something I have mostly seen in college festivals and exactly three times outside of the college auditorium. And one of those times, my mom was the co-director; so well, it is safe to say that I have seen only two professional plays. 

The first play can be summed up one word – pathetic. Although, I had fun watching it. Sometime in the summer of 2005, I found myself watching a play that had something to do with the four seasons and a woman called Beatrice. That is all I remember about it. 

However, the performance I saw yesterday will remain fresh in my memory for a long time. It was a spectacular presentation of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, directed by Sam Mendes. Truth be told, I got the tickets for the play because of the names like Rebecca Hall and Ethan Hawk. But the play had much more to offer than just two well-known faces from the movies. 

The first thing that struck me was the stage design and perfect lighting. For the complete three hours, I sat mesmerized by the magical lighting on the stage. The nimble transition between scenes, the stage and the secreen, was another thing that left me very impressed. I realize the credit for the over all effect that I found so spectacular goes to the set designer, lighting designer, illusionist, sound designer, costumes, makeup, hairstylist etc. But whatever magic all these people weaved together, left my visual senses very pleased. 

The second thing that impressed me was the voice acting. I understand the play had all acclaimed theater personalities like Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack, Rebecca Hall, Ethan Hawk, Richard Easton, and Josh Hamilton. Maybe because I sat a little too far from the stage, it was their dialogue delivery, their dialect, and the varying pitch of their voices that struck me first. 

For someone who is not a fan of Shakespearean English, the dialogues were very lucid. I also found some much-unexpected elements of mirth in the play that had the audience clapping with joy. Until the intermission, the play’s tone is serious and even tense, but the audience is in for a happy surprise when the curtain lifts post drinks. There is music, there is dance, and there is much frolicking around (mostly by Ethan Hawk, but others give company.)

I did not care for the story much. Rather, I thought it was unreal and extremely far-fetched even for someone who believes in the theory of suspension of disbelief. However, to comment on that would be to comment on Shakespeare and I do not consider myself well read enough to do so. Therefore, I will take the safer route and stick just to commenting on the play I saw.

The ending of the play is most gorgeously done. The lighting, the acting, and the sounds are all well mingled to produce a lasting image that stays with you even after the lights of the car park blind you on your way home.

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