The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Connecticut Review
The Winter’s Tale”

By Chesley Plemmons

Why, then the world and all that’s in ‘tis nothing. The covering sky is nothing. Bohemia nothing. My wife is nothing.—Leontes bemoaning the moral malaise he sees throughout the world and a justification for his irrational jealousy of his wife, Hermione.

It is required. You do awake your faith. Then all stand still. On: those that think it is unlawful business I am about, let them depart. Music, awake her; strike! ‘Tis time. Descend Be stone no more. — Paulina begging Leontes to believe in miracles as the statue of Hermoine “comes to life.”
The Winter's Tale
Rob Campbell and Susannah Schulman
(Photo: Joan Marcus)
Shakespeare’s The Winter's Tale is a perfectly balanced blend of tragedy and redemption, each emotion dominating one half of the play When either half is overdone, it tilts the equilibrium so brilliantly calibrated by the playwright. The new and ambitious production of Tale at the Yale Repertory in New Haven unfortunately succumbs to excess in the second, brighter side of the evening, thereby distancing the two portions of the tale instead of effortlessly weaving them together.

This is not to say there aren’t multiple pleasures in director Liz Diamonds staging, but the wild and very wooly second act seems to be saying that it alone is the play and what has gone before, merely prologue. The first act is set in a formal and serious Sicilia. Michael Yeargan’s soaring sets are regal and imposing and Jennifer Moeller’s darkly handsome costumes suggest elegance, fortune and a hint of tragedy.

Leontes (Rob Campbell), the King of Sicilia, goes off the deep end emotionally while playing host to his best friend, Polixenes, King of Bohemia (Hoon Lee). Suffering from a malaise that causes him to see the world and the people in it as slaves to misconduct and lechery, Leontes leaps to the irrational and untrue assumption that his pregnant wife Hermione (Susannah Schulman) is having an affair with Polixenes.

Even after the Delphic Oracle proclaims her innocence, Leontes rants on until the gods take the life of his young son and then, we are told, Hermione. The queen’s lady, Paulina — a very fine Felicity Jones— rescues Hermione’s newborn baby girl, Perdita, and persuades her husband Antigonus (Brian Keane) to spirit her away.

A broken man, Leontes vows to visit the single grave of his wife and son every day in penance for his crimes. This ends the first half of the play. To this point, everything, to this traditionalist critic’s eyes and ears, was seamless and powerful. Schulman was quite moving delivering Hermoine’s impassioned defense, as was Jones in Paulina’s fiery exchange with Leones in defense of her mistress.

As the jealousy driven Leontes, Campbell fashioned his character with a tic here and a tic there that betrayed the unstableness of his mind. Tyrone Mitchell Henderson’s Camillo was a neat portrait of a friend beset by doubt, and young Remsen Welsh was an appealing Mamillus, the king’s son.

Most often productions of The Winter’s Tale now take a break and rejoin the story after the intermission (and the passage of 16 years) in the happier environs of Bohemia. The director here has opted to play a few of the first Bohemia scenes before the break thus depriving the play of its logical schism.

Hermoine’s babe, a girl, Perdita (Lupita Nyong’o) having been rescued by Paulina’s husband, Antigonus (Brian Keane) and left to survive on her own on the shore of Bohemia is found and raised by a shepherd (Thomas Kopache). Now grown into a pretty young thing she has fallen in love with Florizel (Tim Brown) the estranged son of — who else? — Polixenes.

There’s not much reason but plenty of rime and rhythm in the second act led by the antics of Autolycus (Luke Robertson), a thorough rogue abetted by a chorus line of shepherds, shepherdesses, clowns and assorted country folk who break into a county hoedown, albeit antiquated style, at the drop of a fake beard or outlandish prop.

Scenic designer Yeargan switches his classic mode for something that looks like the Arabian Nights, and costumer Moeller has followed suit with dazzling color combinations that more often shock the eye than sooth it.

Did I mention there’s a musical quartet on stage throughout? They’re quite helpful in setting the mood playing some soulful music by Matthew Suttor in the first half and some bacchanalian tunes for the excessively vibrant second half.

Randy Duncan has choreographed frenzied routines that almost outdo Hair, and the stage is often awhirl with gypsy colored skirts and blouses. The stage directions call at one point for “a dance of twelve Satyrs” so I guess that’s justification for most anything.

As for stage directions, the play’s most famous (for Antigonus) “Exit, pursued by a bear” is handled with witty bravado. Comic bits and funny performances abound even though Autolycus does get a bit much as do the exhausting dances.

That everything is finally resolved — the dead reborn, the king and queen reunited, and the young lovers forgiven and officially joined may — require a leap of faith. But who else would ask us to do such a thing except Sir William?

The Winter’s Tale is my favorite Shakespearean play and perhaps I exercise too much ownership by way of caveats. In bits and pieces Yale Repertory has illuminated its magic even if the cumulative effect is weakened by placing too much emphasis on its sunny moments.


The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
Directed by Liz Diamond
Cast: Rob Campbell (Lenontes) Susannah Schulman (Hermione), Hoon Lee (Polixenes), Felicity Jones (Paulina), Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Camillo), Tim Brown (Florizel), Lolita Nylon’s (Perdita), Francis Joe (Shephard 1), Adam O’Byrne (Shepherd 2), Richard Ruiz (Clown), Adina Verson (Emilia) and Thomas Kopache (Old Shepherd).
Sets by Michael Yeargan
Composer: Matthew Suttor
Costumes: Jennifer Moeller
Choreographer: Randy Duncan
Sound design: Elizabeth Atkinson
Lighting design: Matt Frey
Stage manager: Catherine Costanzo
Musicians:Paul Brantley (cello), Michael Compitello, Adam Rosenblatt (percussion), Jason May (woodwinds).
Running time: 2 hours, 50 minutes including one 15-minute intermission
Yale Repertory, University Theater, 222 York Street, New Haven, Ct.
Through: April 7.
Tues. – Sat. @ 8 p.m. matinees Saturdays @ 2.
Tickets: $20 - $88;, or (203) 432-1234.
Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.

Visit Curtainup's Blog Annex
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter

Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The Winter’s Tale
  • I disagree with the review of The Winter’s Tale
  • The review made me eager to see The Winter’s Tale
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show
Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free


©Copyright 2012, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from