Theater review: “The Winter’s Tale,” Brown/Trinity, October 2012

I saw last week that Brown/Trinity was going to stage Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” downtown, in the Pell/Chafee Center. I bought tickets immediately.

“The Winter’s Tale” isn’t staged very often. It is an odd play, which Shakespeare most likely wrote late in life. It’s about the king of Sicily, Leontes, who becomes irrationally jealous of his wife Hermione, who (he’s completely sure) is having an affair with his best friend King Polyxenes of Bavaria. He tries to kill his friend the king, unsuccessfully; he imprisons his (pregnant) queen; he has his little son sent away.

The Oracle of Delphi tells him that he’s wrong about everything. He erupts into a rage, and then his wife dies, and his son. Unrepentant, he sends his newborn daughter to be eaten by wild animals.

One of his courtiers takes the baby girl to “the seacoast of Bohemia” (there ain’t no such place). He abandons her there, and is then (in Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction) “pursued by a bear,” who kills him.

The play’s last two acts are about redemption. The wife, Hermione, lives, and so does the baby girl. The son of the King of Bohemia marries the daughter of the King of Sicily. And so on.

It is sweet, and bittersweet.

This production was lots of fun. The sets were minimal: some sheets, a toy ship. A few of the actors are worth mention: Elise LeBreton, a dignified Hermione; Catherine Dupont, a wonderful Emilia; Ben Grills, a funny / dignified Shepherd; Mark Larson, a very funny Clown; and Zdenko Martin, a convincingly roguish Autolycus.

At the end of part one – “exit, pursued by a bear” – there was a whole chorus line of bears, performing a very athletic dance number. Then they ran up into the audience, and one of them stuck her bear-masked face into my face and growled, and I laughed like hell.

Then, at the beginning of Part II, after the intermission, the minstrel / scoundrel Autolycus came onstage, wearing a hat that looked just like the one I bought two weeks ago on Montmartre.

He’d taken it from under my seat. He came up into the audience after his musical number and returned it to me, very sweetly, and told me to be more careful in future.

Imagine! My hat’s a Shakepearean actor!


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About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

2 Responses to Theater review: “The Winter’s Tale,” Brown/Trinity, October 2012

  1. starproms says:

    Wow! What an evening. I’ve never seen that play. It certainly has a lot of twists and turns.

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