The Winter’s Tale – Shakespeare’s Triangular Tale

THE WINTER'S TALE poster - Courtesy of Antaeus Theatre Company
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Written by the Bard himself in 1610 or 1611, THE WINTER’S TALE was first performed in 1611 and published in 1623. Inspired by Robert Greene’s 1588 pastoral romance “Pandosto,” THE WINTER’S TALE hip-hops between comedic and serious – and back. Many have been the productions of this play over the years – but the question remains: is it a comedy or a late romance? Shakespeare scholars will continue to debate the issue, likely for another 400 years. In any case, they agree that, at the time, the title connoted a story which was not meant to be taken seriously and had a happy ending, in the tradition of an old wife’s tale. Scholars have also suggested that the country of Bohemia, an important setting in the play, was probably on the seacoast of Sicily – or perhaps another area of Southern Italy called Agula. These observations and questions aside, Antaeus Theatre Company proudly presents THE WINTER’S TALE in 2024.

Shannon Lee Clair and Peter Mendoza – Photo by Jenny Graham

To quote director Elizabeth Swain, “…doing a full production for Antaeus felt like a dream…and a pretty big challenge…I am often asked what my concept is, and my answer is always the same…to trust and bring to life the text Shakespeare gives us. Any production decisions made spring from my reading of the text, first alone, and then with my design team, and ultimately with the amazing Antaean actors. Shakespeare did not hold with rigid rules of stagecraft, so we must trust him, and use what he gives us, even if there are puzzling challenges to reality and logic.”

Adam J. Smith – Photo by Jenny Graham

Leontes (Adam J. Smith), king of Sicily, has a problem. It seems that his beloved and pregnant Queen Hermione (Kaci Hamilton) appears to be having an affair with Polixenes (Ned Mochel), king of neighboring Bohemia and Leontes’ best friend since childhood. When Leontes orders Camillo (Christopher Cappiello) to murder Polixenes, fur begins to fly in the merry kingdom. And when Camillo decides instead to tell Polixenes of his master’s wish and flee with the intended victim, things become messy indeed. After the imprisoned Hermione gives birth to a daughter, Perdita (Shannon Lee Clair), Leontes disowns the baby and demands that she be abandoned in parts unknown. As it happens, parts unknown turns out to be in a rural piece of Bohemia. What happens to this child, the Sicilian royals Leontes and Hermione, Polixenes of Bohemia, and his son and heir Florizel (Peter Mendoza)? In his special convoluted way, Shakespeare weaves the complex tale into a neat tapestry by the end of the play.

Kaci Hamilton – Photo by Jenny Graham

Skillfully directed by Swain, THE WINTER’S TALE brings to life the time and happenings so many eons ago. Not to be deterred by the challenges presented by the play, Swain surmounts all – including a bear chasing one of the characters and a statue that comes to life. The Antaeus Company does an excellent job of breathing life into the characters, even when they wax alternately comic and tragic. And there is, of course, the unsanctioned love between a prince and a peasant to add to the romantic aspects of the story. One thing about the play: the audience will never be bored.

Cast of THE WINTER’S TALE – Photo by Jenny Graham

Kudos to the production team, including Frederica Nascimento’s scenic design, Carolyn Mazuca’s costumes, Vickie J. Scott’s lighting, and Jeff Gardner’s sound. Let’s not forget Annie Yee’s choreography as the merry sheep-shearing crowd gather to dance away the night. THE WINTER’S TALE is a joy to watch as the characters cavort through the scenes. Besides, it’s always fun to see what Shakespeare hath wrought.

Peter Mendoza, JD Cullum, Ann Noble, and Brian Kim McCormick – Photo by Jenny Graham

A WINTER’S TALE runs through March 11, 2024, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursday (3/7/24), Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Antaeus Theatre Company performs at the Kiki and David Gindler Performing Arts Center, 110 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205. Tickets are $45. For information and reservations, call 818-506-5436 or go online.

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