By William Shakespeare
Directed by Lesley Playfer & Richard MacSween
November 5th – 8th, 2008
The Winter’s Tale was first published in the First Folio in 1623. Although it was listed as a comedy when it first appeared, some modern editors have relabelled the play a romance. Some critics consider it to be one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays”, because the first three acts are filled with intense psychological drama, while the last two acts are comedic and supply a happy ending.
The play contains the most famous Shakespearean stage direction: “Exit, pursued by a bear”. One of Shakespeare’s most haunting and enigmatic late plays, The Winter’s Tale is a fine example of his fascination with the dramatic genre of “romance” – the portrayal of magical lands, familial conflict and exile, and final reunion and reconciliation.
The play tells the story of the middle-aged Leontes, King of Sicilia, and his childhood friend Polixenes, the King of Bohemia. Leontes mistakenly believes that his friend is having an affair with his wife, Hermione. In his jealousy he tries to murder Polixenes, who flees, and accuses his wife of adultery. Hermione gives birth to a baby girl, Perdita, who Leontes denounces as illegitimate, and casts her out into the wilderness.
Hermione is ultimately proved innocent, but her son, Mamillius, dies of grief. Hermione collapses, apparently dead, and Leontes is left to pick up the tragic consequences of his actions. Time passes, and the action moves to Bohemia, where the lost child Perdita has grown up a shepherdess in the midst of “great creating nature”.
The final scenes of the play draw towards resolution and reconciliation between Leontes, Hermione and their lost daughter, culminating in one of Shakespeare’s most moving final scenes. One of Shakespeare’s most consummate plays, The Winter’s Tale is a fascinating study of male insecurity and the relations between art and nature.
Cast in order of appearance:
- Steve Grist: Time, The Gaoler and Bear
- Peter Allen : Camillo
- Lynne Cummings: Hermione
- Jan Plafer: Leontes
- Nick Allen: Polixenes
- Simon Pomfret: The Lord and a Mariner
- Gabriel Cassidy: Mamillius
- Mark Cassidy: Antigonus
- Rebecca Murphy: Lady
- Adele Birtwistle: Lady
- Yvonne Bolton: Paulina
- Bethan Roberts: Emilia
- Adrian Hartley: Old Shepherd
- James Bateman: Clown
- John Cummings: Autolicus
- Ben Rodwell: Florizel
- Jessica Cummings: Perdita
- Frances Spencer: Mopsa and Gossip
- Keilli Broome: Dorcus and Gossip
- Frances Wilkinson: Gossip
- The Chorus: Kate Pearson, Ben Allen, Edd Burgess, Marie Cassidy, Magda Cassidy, Emma-Jane Samworth, Pat Sagar, Georgia Rigg, Irene Turley
- Original Music: Composed and Performed by Jay Stansfield