(Mark Fisher’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/15.)
John Michie’s Leontes has a bad case of confirmation bias. In his personal echo chamber, he hears only what he wants to hear. Sporting a clean-cut suit and golden tie, this avuncular figure sees himself as the reasonable type; used to having his own way, yes, but genial with it. So if he says his wife, Hermione, has been having it off with his best friend, Polixenes – well, he’s obviously in the right and everyone else must be deluded.
It’s hard to know whether the feeble smile that crosses his lips whenever he is challenged is a sign of patronising indulgence or a mark of vulnerability. When he shoves his hands into his pockets and lollops casually about the stage, is he displaying smug self-confidence or concealing his doubts? The degree to which it is the latter makes the first-half tragedy and second-half reconciliation all the more moving.