The masks of tragedy and comedy alternately scowl and smile on Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” a play that combines the darkest of deeds and the merriest of moments. The Yale Repertory Theatre of New Haven will be giving it a stunning presentation until Saturday, April 7 in its University Theatre, 222 York Street.
Leontes, the King of Sicilia, should have everything any man could want, the respected leadership of his country, a loving wife pregnant with their second child, a son and heir and a best friend in King Polixenes, from the neighboring nation of Bohemia. Leontes, however, has a treasure chest of emotions that becomes a Pandora’s Box when he latches on to the conviction that his lovely wife Hermione and his longtime “brother” Polixenes are having on an affair and the child that she is carrying is not his own.
Rob Campbell’s Leontes is fiercely and staunchly consumed by this mistaken belief. He orders his guard Camillo (Tyrone Mitchell Henderson) to kill Polixenes, an innocent and unknowing victim (Hoon Lee) and has his faithful Hermione arrested and put on trial. While Susannah Schulman’s Hermione passionately pleads her lack of guilt or guile, it takes the death of their son Mamillius (Remsen Welsh), a fulfillment of the Oracle of Delphi’s prophesy, to sway the king’s hard heart. Even Paulina, an eloquent Felicity Jones, the Queen’s loyal noble woman, fails to win her lady’s freedom.
Meanwhile Hermione has prematurely given birth to a daughter whom she names Perdita, which means “lost,” collapsing herself when Leontes has the babe abandoned in Bohemia. Fast forward sixteen years and learn that the child survived, was found and raised by an old shepherd (Thomas Kopache), and is now a beautiful maiden (Lupita Nyong’o) who has fallen in love with Florizel (Tim Brown), the son of King Polixenes.
As only Shakespeare can, the tragic events of the past become the basis for today’s frivolity and festivity. Under Liz Diamond’s fanciful hand, the young lovers as well as the older generations are happily reunited.
For tickets ($20-88), call the Yale Rep at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org. Performances are Tuesday –Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees on selected Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. and special 10:30 a.m. shows for students Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday April 3-5, under a unique program WILL POWER!
“The Winter’s Tale” begins with tragic overtures and ends in unexpectedly lighthearted resolution as a harsh winter resolves into
a blooming spring, all with original music composed by Matthew Suttor, and forgiveness reigns supreme in the land.