The Winter's Tale
DIRECTOR Lucy Bailey tells EG about the Royal Shakespeare Company's production The Winter's Tale.
Tell us about the cast. In particular what do you think Jo Stone-Fewings and Tara Fitzgerald will bring to the roles of Leontes and Hermione?
I've tried to go very young in the casting. Often the roles of Leontes and Hermione get cast very old, but these are people who have a baby, and are about to have another baby. They should be people you don't say "You should know better" to. I also wanted them to have a chance of a life at the end after the reconciliation, so they need to be young enough to make that meaningful.
I've wanted to work with Tara Fitzgerald for a long time. She possesses a directness, and a combination of pragmatism and extraordinary imagination. Tara has enormous humour and real wit, which is so right for Hermione.
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You're setting the play in the 1860s.
This was a period when people didn't want to think about the horrors of the Crimean War – they were searching for other values and fun. So, in a way if you think 1860s, think 1960s – to some degree there's a parallel.
The Winter's Tale is one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays. What do you think are its strengths as a piece of drama?
It's probably Shakespeare's best-written play, in so far as every character has the most astonishing language. It's breathtaking. I think the first three acts are some of the best dramatic writing that has ever been written. And it's so modern, dealing with relationships, and, of course, how jealousy is the most irrational, disastrous and poisonous of emotions.