note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Richard Pacheco
The Gamm Theatre wraps up its current season with a splendid production of Shakespeare’s “The Winter's Tale” with its many twists of plot and somewhat implausible ending but all a truly enjoyable ride along the way. The large cast is winning and moves along with energy and determination.
King Leonte is tormented by raging jealousy. The play opens with the meeting of two lifelong friends, Leontes, king of Sicilia and Polixenes, the King of Bohemia. After nine months Polixenes series to return to his own kingdom to tend to his affairs and see his son. Leontes’ efforts to convince him to stay meet with failure so he sends his wife to convince his friend. Hermione agrees and convinces him to stay. Leontes is perplexed how she convinced him to stay so easily. He suspects his pregnant wife has been having an affair with him and that the child is a bastard. He orders one of his lords to poison his friend but instead he warns him and they both flee to his kingdom.
Furious Leontes publicly accuses his wife of infidelity and declares her child illegitimate. He throws her in prison over the protests of his nobles. She gives birth to a girl. Despite the fact that the oracle clears his wife, all plummets into disaster with the death of his son and his wife is reported dead. His infant daughter is left on the shores of his friend’s land. Then it rolls further long with more twists and turns pilling up along the way.
The baby named Perdita is reared by and old shepherd. When she reaches 16 she falls in love with, yes, Polixenes’ son. From there it is a mere matter of untwisting the twisted to resolve all well which it does.
Fred Sullivan directs with a keen eye and supple touch. It moves merrily along with zest and finesse, well acted and energetic. His appearance in the show as the rascal and mutton chopped rogue Autolycus is pure delight, bigger than life and ribald and energetic.
Tony Estrela, the artistic director of the Gamm is stunning as Leontes. He is a dense mixture of jealousy and remorse, all vividly conveyed with skill and flair. In his able hands the tormented king is convincing and sympathetic despite his baseless jealousy.
Karen Carpenter is the epitome of the unjustly accused Hermione, all poise and presence. She is sympathetic in her dignity and conviction, her protestations of innocence at being wrongly accused.
Jesse Hinton is the longtime friend, King Polixenes, an honest man, a loyal friend. Hinson is excellent in the role, poised and elegant, full of confidence and a sense of royalty.
Mark S. Cartier is wining at the old Shepherd. Nora Eschenheimer is charming as Perdita, easy going and energetic. Florizel, King Polixenes’ son is played by Jeff Church with gusto and finesse.
The large cast is right on the mark, full of sincerity and liveliness. It is well worth seeing, an outstanding production.
The set designed by Patrick Lynch is a bit stark and plain with not much to it. IT is not very evocative. The Jessie Darrell Jarbadan costumes are also fairly simple, not very elegant for royalty.
The first act seems a lot like Othello minus Iago with its severe ever mounting jealousy. The second act seems more comedic in nature. So it is more upbeat at the end however implausible it might be.