Written at the height of his career, this is Shakespeare at his most daring; a tale that journeys from intense family drama, to fitful dream of sexual jealousy, brimming with mayhem, magic, redemption and a marriage.
Consumed by jealousy, King Leontes wrongly accuses his pregnant wife, Hermione of adultery with a family friend, before imprisoning her. Then, when his daughter is born, Leontes mistakenly believes the baby is not his own, and orders her to be abandoned into the wild; but the lord carrying out the order is killed by one of Shakespeare’s most surprising characters, a bear. Hermione apparently dies of grief…
Part two of this tale takes place 16 years later in Bohemia, where the audience meets two young lovers, Florizel and Perdita, who is the missing princess. When the young lovers flee to Sicilia, they take refuge in the Kings Court, where they meet a repentant King Leontes visiting the remarkably lifelike statue of his queen Hermione. In the end, identities are revealed and forgiveness prevails.
“Shakespeare was an experimentalist and a protagonist. The bear evokes the tragic part of the tale and the statue promises resolution,”says John Bell.
Bell will be telling the tale through the eyes of the King and Queen’s son, Mamillius (Rory Potter), who distraught by the turn of events, dies of heartbreak.
“You will see the play through the eyes of a child; he becomes the central character. The Winter’s Tale is his tale, his story.”
Joining the list of genre-defying plays written in Shakespeare’s later years, The Winter’s Tale is commonly referred to as a romance, or tragicomedy. Considered one of Shakespeare’s most haunting, this tale is an in-depth analysis of the psychology of family and friendship, jealousy and love.
Delving into the play’s themes of self-forgiveness, reconciliation and spirituality, Bell describes The Winter’s Tale, “as the most beautiful romance, with great grief and great joy. It’s a tragedy that turns into a fantastical fairy story, ending in lightness.”
Director: John Bell Cast: Myles Pollard, Helen Thomson, Felix Jozeps, Terry Serio, Dorian Nkono, Philip Dodd, Michelle Doake, Justin Smith, Liana Cornell, Rory Potter, Otis Pavlovic Designer: Stephen Curtis Lighting Designer: Matthew Marshall Composer & Musical Director: Alan John Sound Designer: Nate Edmondson Dramaturg: John Kachoyan Assistant Director: Janice Muller
The Winter’s Tale
Playhouse – Sydney Opera House
Season continues to 29 March 2014
Bookings: (02) 9250 7777 or online at: www.sydneyoperahouse.com
For more information, visit: www.bellshakespeare.com.au for details.
Image: Rory Potter in The Winter’s Tale – photo by Michele Mossop