At the Branagh Theatre movie of the Winter's tale it became very clear that Act V scene 2 is what happens when someone comes round after rehearsal and says to Will S. "It went fairly well, but we ran half an hour over. You'll need to go through and trim off some of the fat."
Sorry, says Will, I'm busy doing the Tempest next week and I have to do a couple of scenes for Beaumont and Fletcher the week after that, can't do it for a month, you'll just have to run with it as is.
"Can't do that, the overtime rates will kill us. Hey, just for a quick fix, how about if you just skip Act Five scenes two to five and just have an infodump with the comedian? Better than nothing."
OK, says Will, and that's what we got.
It's the only thing that explains why Autolycus has essentially no plot function at all; he was in the scenes that got cut.
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