Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Winter's Tale"

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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark


"The Winter's Tale"

by William Shakespeare
directed by Diego Arciniegas

Set Design by Janie Howland
Lighting Design by Craig Brennan
Costume Design by Toni Bratton Elliott
Sound Design by Stan Gurczak
Stage Manager Cathie Ryan

Leontes.........................Diego Arciniegas
Hermione..........................Suzanne Nitter
Polixenes.....................Derry Woodhouse
Paulina...........................Nancy E. Carroll
Perdita.................................Stacy Fischer
Florizel.......................Nathaniel McIntyre
Camillo/Antigonus..........Steve Barkhimer
Old Shepherd...........................Bill Salem
Clown..........................Richard LaFrance
Autolycus.....................Gerardo Franklin
Time..............SiouxSanna Ramirez-Cruz
Cleomenes/Gentleman..........Berne Budd
Dion/Gentleman..................Bill Gardiner
Lord/Gentleman...............Michael Saenz
Emillia/ Dorcas.............Helen McElwain
Mopsa.............................Kathryn Pierce
Gaoler/Mariner...............Nathaniel Scott
Mamillius.......................Gabe Goodman

The first half of "The Winter's Tale" is full of abrupt, wilful confrontation. Leontes, king of Sicily, on flimsy evidence, takes a sudden intense dislike of his, up until then, beloved "blood-brother" Polixenes, king of Bohemia. Within minutes he is ordering his courtier Camillo to poison him and when poor Camillo helps Polixenes escape, Leontes, despite the advice from everyone and the scornfully scathing arguments of Lady Paulina, he tries his wife for adultery, orders his newborn daughter exposed to die as a bastard, and even declares the oracle of God a lie for disagreeing with him. Whew!

Diego Arciniegas has directed himself as Leontes in an almost breakneck pace. He presents to everyone a pugnaciously adamantine insistence against which all his advisors bounce --- heatedly, but irrelevantly. Steve Barkhimer, Gabe Goodman, Berne Budd and Bill Gardiner all take their turns, to no avail. Toe to toe, the king will be satisfied. Only Nancy E. Carroll's powerful Paulina is a match, defending her queen's honor with a withering wrath that is as single-minded as the king's.

And though she is right, he is King. Suzanne Nitter's Queen Hermione, slender, reed-like, could argue or wheedle Polixenes to stay an extra week --- something her enraged king cannot --- but she stands helpless and frail in chains at her trial, her defense already almost defeated.

And throughout this whirlwind, the text shines through. All is argument, vehement discord, and escalating anger and sudden, terrible retributions. Words are weapons on each side, nose to nose, in defiance of reason, fact, or truth.

For the second half, Time in the person of SiouxSanna Ramirez-Cruz turns the play's hour-glass sixteen years in one flip, with Princess Perdita --- exposed of course on a Bohemian seacoast --- grown into Stacy Fischer's winsome shepherd-girl wooed by tall handsome Nathaniel McIntyre, secret son of --- King Polixenes! And despite the pastoral relaxations of a sheep-shearing party Derry Woodhouse's King will not see Prince Florizel mated with a mere peasant. There is again discord, even here in paradise..

Of course the lovers flee (and are pursued) to Sicily, where all the many brangles are sorted out --- and it's here that Arciniegas' direction wins the day. He takes the miracle made possible by lost Perdita's return to be luminously true. A slow, forgiving tenderness, after such short, sharp contentions, bathes Janie Howland's towering, intricate set with a glow even brighter than Craig Brennan's lights. The wintry bluster, then summer's hot passion, leaves all at long last older in a wiser autumn of fond memories.

[P.S.: And beware: there IS a Bear!] Love,
===Anon.


"The Winter's Tale" (23 August - 16 September)
PUBLICK THEATRE
Christian Herter Park, CAMBRIDGE, MA
1 (617) 782-5425


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