YORK Shakespeare Project is up to play number 32 out of 37 on its long and winding road to perform all the Bards works bar none over two decades.

By now, we are at that point where Shakespeare is in his prog rock phase, or Toad of Toad Hall phase, doing whatever he wants and to hell with it. All life is here, tragedy, comedy, and the most famous Shakespeare stage instruction of them all: Exit, pursued by a bear.

This has been presented many ways: Lucy Bailey had a projection of a bear emerging from the sea when the Royal Shakespeare Company brought its whistle-and-bells production to the Grand Opera House in 2012. YSP's budget does not stretch quite that far, and so Tony Froud's Antigonus is pursued by the sound of his own voice impersonating a bear's growl.

The Winter's Tale is deemed to be one of Shakespeare's "problem plays", but Natalie Rose Quatermass, a York Theatre Royal alumnus directing a YSP show for the first time, was determined the cast should have fun with this "bonkers punk piece of theatre". Don't treat this twisting tale of two halves differently just because it's Shakespeare, she reasoned. Be gung-ho. Problem, what problem?

Keep the worlds defined, as Ben Prusiner does in his design: stonework for stern Sicilia, foliage strewn around the mezzanine level for mellow, sheep-shearing festival-loving Bohemia. Keep the focus in this epic story of jealousy, betrayal, love and redemption on clear storytelling amid the kings, queens, clowns and sheep.

The good in this show is very good: Claire Morley's meddlesome pedlar Autolycus; Nick Jones, Maggie Smales and Elizabeth Elsworth, voices of experience as Polixenes, Paulina and Camilla respectively; the promising Tom Jennings as Florizel; the incidental music of Flora Greysteel, whether on stage for the sheep-sharing fair sing-song or tucked away upstairs making quiet magic.

Problems in the problem play? Well, Paul French was not assured with his lines as jealous King Leontes – vital for the lead – and a noble Juliet Waters is older than ideal for playing the pregnant Hermione, even in the imaginative world of theatre.

The Winter's Tale, York Shakespeare Project, John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate, York, today at 7.30pm; tomorrow, 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk