The Winter's Tale – reviews of 'ambitious' Shakespeare ballet

Apr 16, 2014

Christopher Wheeldon's extraordinary new work for the Royal Ballet is a triumph, say critics


What you need to know
The Royal Ballet's production of The Winter's Tale has opened at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Christopher Wheeldon's world premiere ballet, with a score by Joby Talbot, is adapted from Shakespeare's tragicomedy about love and jealousy.

Wheeldon's three-act ballet tells the story of the madly jealous King Leontes who wrongly believes his wife, Queen Hermione has fallen pregnant to his best friend, Polixenes, and abandons their baby daughter Perdita. Sixteen years later Polixenes' son falls for Perdita, and love helps redeem the wrongs of the past. Runs until 8 May.

What the critics like "In taking on his most ambitious project to date Wheeldon has scored his greatest triumph," says Debra Craine in The Times. The Winter's Tale is the most heartfelt and resonant ballet seen at the Royal Opera House in decades.

Wheeldon's extraordinary three-act version of The Winter's Tale is "a triumph", says Sarah Crompton in the Daily Telegraph. It is contemporary and classical, traditional and modern, narrative and abstract and it feels like something entirely new.

The Winter's Tale "crams everything you could want from a ballet into a single evening — comedy, tragedy, romance, drama and some lovely dancing", says Lyndsey Winship in the Evening Standard. Wheeldon's eloquent storytelling is propelled by a driving score for a hugely enjoyable caper.

What they don't like Wheeldon has managed to translate one of Shakespeare's most intractable plays into fine, thought-provoking entertainment but it is "a flawed ballet", says Luke Jennings in The Guardian. The act three resolution is disappointingly rushed, and the key plot reveal falls flat – still, this is a ballet to keep.

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