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THE WINTER'S TALE Saul Elkin Stage/Shakespeare In Delaware Park
By
Jun 25, 2024, 12:28
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Through July 14
THE WINTER’S TALE Saul Elkin Stage/Shakespeare in Delaware Park

In literature, Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” is regarded as a “problem” play while for Shakespeare in Delaware Park, it’s regarded as the progenitor of 49 years of free Shakespeare.
There’s no question it’s not an easy play, not the comedy of “Twelfth Night” or the political tragedy of “Julius Caesar.”
Instead, it’s a portrait of a ruler who may be mentally ill or, certainly, driven into madness by his certainty that his wife is having an affair with one of his oldest friends.
This starts off in “Sicilia,” where Leontes (Daniel Lendzian) is king and is hosting Bohemia King Polixenes (Todd Benzin).
Shakespeare found jealousy a wonderful plot device, since the religious and cultural wars of his time meant many traditional plots carried potential arrest and execution threats from the government.
Just look at Iago in “Othello.”
Leontes decides Polixenes is having an affair with his pregnant queen, Hermione (Vernia Sharisse Garvin).
He even denies the new baby girl is his to the point he orders close aide Antigonus (Gerald Ramsey) to take the infant to a remote corner of the kingdom and abandon her.
After leaving the baby, Antigonus is pursued and caught by a bear and turned into dinner, leaving his fate unclear at the royal court.
The king turns into a raver about his beliefs, to the point Polixines flees Sicilia in the middle of the night, accompanied by Leontes’ close aide, Camilla (Kate Olena).
In the middle of this sudden departure, young crown prince Mamillius (Carter Riccio) dies, as does his mother, Hermione.
That leaves Leontes alone.
And, the Oracle at Delphi has told him Hermione was innocent of Leontes’ accusations.,
Here’s where things get tangled.
The story suddenly jumps forward 16 years.
Leontes is still alone and there is no sign of the infant and no apparent heir.
He does regret the madness of those distant days and what it did to his family.
Far off in Bohemia, the daughter is growing up as Perdita, daughter of an increasingly successful Old Shepherd (Michael Starzynski), brother to Clown (Phil Wackerfuss).
Perdita has also fallen in love with Bohemia’s crown prince, Florizel (Jake Hayes), and they are sneaking around trying to get married.
Polixines is aware of what is going on and he consults with Camilla on what to do, about the heir and the farm wench getting it on.
They skulk around the rural area where Perdita and Florizel are working on their relationship.
Shakespeare liked stories about rural people and the cast gets a chance to act rural.
All the while, scammer and crook Autolycus (Kerrykate Abel) is plotting what’s in it for her,
Perdita and Florizel decide to head off to Sicilia and meet the king.
Polixines and Camilla follow closely behind.
There’s a reunion which turns out much larger than expected.
While the first half of the show carries a high body count and the crackpot king, the second half, after the time change, turns much more comic, a real change of tone, with some comic scenes and events in rural Bohemia.
The first half of the production is stronger than the second half and many people don’t seem to have control of their parts, later on.
Director Kate Powers has some strong performances, particularly Lendzian, Wickerfuss, Abel and Olean.
David Dwyer kicked in the set, although it looks more like my brother’s street in Greenwich Village than Sicilia.
“The Winter’s Tale” is frequently entertaining although it’s not the Bard’s best and has some strong performances.
It continues to be an interesting way to spend a summer evening.

A.W.

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