THE WINTER’S TALE brings one of Shakespeare’s most unique shows to life with at Coronado Playhouse and is playing for free through October 13th.
The play is famous for a few reasons; the first is that famous stage direction “Exit, pursued by a bear,” but second for feeling like a combination of both a tragedy and a comedy put together.
First act finds us in Sicilia, a town where King Leontes (JUSTIN ALLEN SLAGLE) rules with his lovely, and pregnant wife Hermione (JULIA GIOLZETTI). Leontes has asked his friend and ruler of a nearby country Polixenes (ISAAC BRIESKE) to extend his visit with them. At first Polixenes declines but after Leontes tells Hermione to turn on the charm and convince him to stay, Polixenes agrees to extend his visit.
This sudden turn in behavior causes Leontes to question why he agreed when Hermione asked and not him, which leads to a rapid, and emotionally explosive conclusion that Hermione has had an affair with Polixenes, the child she carries must be the result of the affair, and that everyone has betrayed him.
Hermione gives birth in prison, names the baby Perdita, and then promptly dies. Leontes banishes the baby to the wilderness, mostly because he wants the baby to perish but may I also suggest it’s because her name is Perdita? (This complete psychotic break is obviously the dramatic portion of the play)
In contrast, the second act brings the audience to the pastoral plains of Bohemia, years after a Shepherd (RAYMOND LYNCH) has found the baby and raised her as his own along with his own son. Perdita (ASHLEY ENGELMAN) has found love with the Prince of Bohemia, Florizel (NEIL MUNZ) who has not yet revealed his true status to her even though he wants to marry her.
Obviously, the marrying of the comedy and the tragedy, like the marrying of these two potential kingdoms together, is a tricky landing to stick since they have such seemingly different temperaments. Luckily, with some affecting performances the show does succeed in its story of love, loss, jealousy, and why house guests should never extend their stay.
Slagle has the difficult role of making a logical man’s repaid decent into madness and suspicion seem to make sense to the audience, but does it convincingly. Giolzetti as Hermione is genuine as the loving if emotionally exhausted Queen who has to defend herself from seemingly random accusations. Kara Tuckfield is also excellent as Paulina, a courtier who does not cower from Leontes’ madness or give him a respite from his actions.
In Bohemia, Engelman and Munz are charming and sweet as the young lovers, and Lynch is appealing as the Shepherd.
Shout out to the bear motif running throughout the show, it helps establish a more credible through line for plot points and actions.
Directed by Samuel Young this is a solid production of what can be a tricky play.
THE WINTER’S TALE is playing for free at The Coronado Playhouse through October 13th. For show time and ticket information go to www.coronadoplayhouse.com