THE WINTER'S TALE (Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh)

Could any director successfully navigate the tonal shift in this, the most eccentric of Shakespeare's plays?

The Sicilian scenes of the first half are very well staged with some fine performances. Having the musicians and singers link the scenes with balladic commentary within the confines of a cramped wee BBC Scotland studio is a stroke of genius. Composer Alasdair Macrae's comments in the programme are a delight!

I agree with Simon Thompson that the use of Scots in the bucolic Bohemian scenes is problematic, but perhaps for different reasons. James Robertson's translation and the comic capering of Jimmy Chisholm (Autolycus), John Stahl (Old Shepherd) and Brian James O'Sullivan are of the highest quality, but simply serve to reinforce the tired theatrical convention which restricts the use of Scots to the realm of pantomime comedy. And I suspect that the shepherd and his son might have plumped for House of Bruar tweeds rather than neddish bling for their visit to the Sicilian court.

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