Friday, May 3, 2019

‘Like Othello on speed’: Falls directs ‘Winter’s Tale’ and I’ve got free tickets

Robert Falls

     Shakespeare can be heavy lifting. All those fardles and bodkins to bear and bare. Modern audiences struggle, though usually they go in with at least a rough idea of what to expect, such as the too-familiar Hamlet, bearing his troubles — fardles — while trying not to end it all with a naked knife, aka, a bare bodkin. King Lear, Macbeth, Richard III, all familiar stories.
     But "The Winter's Tale"? I read both an analysis by Harold Bloom and an essay in The Riverside Shakespeare and was still lost; a problem, because the Sun-Times and the Goodman Theatre are giving away 25 pairs of tickets to the May 16 performance.
     I can't urge you to see a play that I don't understand.
     Trying to do better than "something about a king," I had lunch with Robert Falls, who is directing the play at the Goodman.
     Falls, for the unfamiliar, is the bad boy of Chicago theater. His previous foray into Shakespeare, "Measure for Measure," had audiences nearly rioting in their seats. Before that, "King Lear" ... well, the phrase "eyeballs sizzling on a grill" should give a sense of the impact.
     The bar is high. How will "The Winter's Tale" top those?
     "It won't," Falls said. "It's an extremely difficult production. They're all difficult plays. But this one ... we'll see. I'm worried it'll disappoint you, Neil. No eye-gouging. No severe violence. No nudity. No in-your-face stuff."
     Nothing's perfect. But the play — what's the play about?
     "I've been working on it for a year and I barely know what it's about," replied Falls

To continue reading, click here.


  1. To tell the truth, I'd rather read Shakespeare's plays than watch them.


  2. I saw it many years ago at the Old Vic. With Wendy Hiller as queen -- still very beautiful in her 80's. I don't recall being particularly befuddled by the convoluted plot, but was then not inclined to be particularly analytical in the theater. The play is, of course, also known for Shakespeare's most famous stage direction: "Exit. Pursued by a bear." Also, for the first known literary use of the word "dildo."


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.