note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Beverly Creasey
Boston Audiences have seen several productions of "The Winter's Tale" in the last ten years. Shakespeare's oddly unbalanced play about jealousy and reconciliation seems to confound directors, with its tragic forward motion stopped cold by a pastoral middle section followed by a closure which brings the two together.
The A.R.T.'s thoughtful attempt, directed by Slobodan Unkovski, has memorable touches like the perfect circle of friends broken by paranoia, then restored to a circle with the next generation at the play's end. But the play ultimately falls victim to the "whirligig of time".
It clocks in at over three hours, and one of its sweetest scenes --- a ballet for the free spirited Bohemians --- is, alas, one of the reasons it runs so long. Unkovski even gives us the character of Time, personified by Benjamin Evett (in a Raggedy Andy wig??) to remind us of its creeping passage.
Leontes is a mercurial King; perhaps he's even unbalanced. One minute he's overjoyed to have his best friend and his wife by his side...and the next moment he's accusing them of adultery. Henry woronicz is a convincing madman in the opening scenes but it's the closing scene where he delivers a performance heartbroken enough for us to forgive him. Mirjana Jokovic as his wife is regal and lovely (in Catherine Zuber's stylized costumes), but it was very difficult to understand what she was saying. Sometimes her voice would rise and fade mid-sentence, and sometimes Christopher Walker's cinematic swells of mood music would drown out the actors.
Bohemia, to Unkovski, is full of "Houka-smoking caterpillars" who evidently keen (a high pitched tongue manoeuvre with a piercing sound) when they're not mellowed out scratching each other's backs. Keening is native to Arabic cultures but Derrah.s accent is Indian...making it quite difficult t ]determine the Bohemians' nationality. The one characteristic of that country's folk which they all share is charm. Remo Airaldi (whose Eartha Kitt voice is always a hoot) and Jeremy Geidt (whose antics are always a hoot) are welcome comic relief from the dread of Act I and Jovan Rameau and Sarah Howe make a luminous couple of young lovers. All's well that ends well so when spring came to end winter, one hoped Hermione would forgive Leontes.