Reviews of the Royal Ballet in "The Winter's Tale."
Christopher Wheeldon’s new three-act version of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale is a triumph. It is contemporary and classical, traditional and modern, narrative and abstract. It feels like something entirely new.
This scene, which starts as if time itself had been suspended, but reaches a climax in which every millisecond is a matter of urgent excitement, is the centerpiece of this three-act dance adaptation of Shakespeare’s five-act romance; the Royal Ballet gave the world premiere on Thursday night at Covent Garden. The choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, the composer Joby Talbot and the designer Bob Crowley have joined in making Bohemia new, and as you watch and listen, your breathing changes.
A brisk prologue introduces the kings Leontes of Sicilia and Polixenes of Bohemia, Leontes’ marriage to Hermione and the birth of their son Mamilius. It’s clear, streamlined storytelling, but the breakneck pace leaves these characters too anonymous, with rhubarbing gestures for friendship and love. Talbot’s music and Bob Crowley’s stylised, no-period costumes are efficient rather than evocative.