The Winter's Tale

Staging The Winter’s Tale in the middle of the summer might seem to be an unusual choice, but as we huddled in the wind blasted Brighton Open Air Theatre it seemed pathetic fallacy was on our side as we prepared to watch the drama unfold.

A fresh take on this old and implausible fairy tale

The performance opened with the entire cast dancing robotically to an originial tune, written by composer Alex Scott, which was reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express. Unfortunately, the dance’s rigid movements foreshadowed the rest of the first act. Perhaps interpreting Shakespeare’s Sicilia as a military based society inspired by the German Democratic Republic didn’t help matters, but the first half felt stiff and unyielding, with the actors physically constrained onstage by long periods of standing to attention.

Scott Ellis presented a fair portrayal of the troubled Leontes driven mad by unfounded jealousy, but the first act felt laboured; his anguish never seemed to be strong enough to move towards its murderous conclusion. The windy weather added an additional challenge. The cast ably battled against their voices drifting away in the extreme wind, but the necessary shouting made it difficult to add nuance and emotion to the barked out dialogue.

The much needed dramatic tension didn’t appear until Hermione’s trial. However, from that point onwards proceedings began to loosen up. Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction – Exit, pursued by a bear – could easily have been tragic, as Antigonus meets his gruesome end. Instead, he was chased off stage by a bear that clumsily tumbled across the stage. The production then revelled in the macabre humour of the scene as Antigonus’ limbs were tossed onto stage bit by bit.

After a protracted first act, the fun started once we entered the relaxed and carefree hippy paradise of Bohemia. Here the bold 1970s style crocheted costumes, designed by Robin Soutar, combined with the subtle yet effective lighting design, brought warmth and life to the sunny Bohemian shores. As the vulgar and mischievous rogue Autolycus, Beth Mullen delivered the most laughs. She audaciously picked her way through the audience, pausing only to pinch away someone’s snack before launching into another double entendre filled speech. Including some ABBA riffs into this Bohemian section introduced more light heartedness and supporting actor Layomi Coker’s strong vocal performance shone through.

Despite the slow pace of scenes in Sicilia, once we got to Bohemia it was an enjoyable and entertaining show and the additional dialogue raised plenty of laughs. Changeling Theatre is clearly a talented collective and have invested a lot of creativity into delivering a fresh take on this old and implausible fairy tale. However, as a company specialising in outdoor performances, Changeling Theatre must understand the trials and tribulations of such settings. Yet the choice of the notoriously difficult The Winter’s Tale, filled as it is with lengthy monologues and little physical action in the first half, might have proved to be too much of a challenge in this windswept amphitheatre.

Reviews by Elanor Parker

Brighton Fishing Museum Loft

The Tower



Bar Broadway (Off Broadway)

Billy-the-Cactus and Lorraine Fontaine

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

A Trilogy: blood (line)

Monkey Barrel Comedy

Sam Lake: Aspiring DILF

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

A Trilogy: box.


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Changeling Theatre apply their unique blend of crazy antics, magic, beautiful costumes and just hint of … ABBA to their production of The Winters Tale at BOAT.

Shakespeare’s wonderful fairy story set in Sicily and Bohemia tells the tale of Leontes who has everything a man could want, wealth, power, a family that loves him, but he is not at peace. He harbours a bitter jealousy that drives him to destroy all he holds dear.

‘It is required, you do awake your faith.’

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £39.00

More Info

Find Tickets