The Winterling, Jez Butterworth

After four days walking around Cumbria in the Lake District for my Gold DofE expedition, a trip to the theatre was in desperate need to liven my spirits… Although looking back, this play is not one to do that, despite being labelled as a ‘dark comedy’. I haven’t read any of Jez Butterworth’s plays and have only ever seen one on stage (Mojo in the West End, which was utterly brilliant and my favourite play I have ever seen), so I was unsure of what to expect.

This production was performed in a studio by a small – although talented – ensemble. (So not at all like the star-studded cast of Mojo!) I found the staging and set the most interesting elements of the production. It was performed on a traverse stage – which was an novel experience having never seen a production with such staging before – and the set, although very simple in design and concept, was well used. The small size of the studio (it cannot even be called a ‘theatre’) worked well for this play, increasing the tension and darkness of the script.

The quality of the acting performances varied quite considerably. In general, the actors were great, especially those playing ‘Patsy’ and ‘Lue’, who in my opinion were the stars of the show. However, the actor playing ‘Wally’ gave a rather stilted, monotonous and unrealistic performance. It was a shame, as he had moments of brilliantly written dialogue.

The storyline was dark, ‘Pinter’esque and confusing to say the least. (I will not give any details on what it is about because, to be quite honest, I’m still not entirely sure!) My family and I all emerged afterwards with very little idea of what had happened. Yet, this was also rather entertaining; discussing the implications and symbolism of the various objects and metaphors so intricately thought out and applied by the playwright. Nevertheless, watching this production still made for a very entertaining evening, and was a pleasant change from the bigger productions I usually see.

 

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