22 Mar 2018

Arts & Entertainment:

We Get the Winter’s Tale We Deserve

King Leontes (Michael Tisdale) begins to feel the pangs of jealousy, as his queen Hermione (Katie deBuys) speaks with his best friend Polixenes (Aldo Billingslea). Photo by Teresa Wood and courtesy of the Folger Theatre

Just in time for this wintery spring, the Folger unveils their latest offering, The Winter’s Tale. The play will run from March 13 through April 22 at the Folger Theatre. To buy tickets, click here.

Director Aaron Posner coaxes a nuanced performance from a gifted ensemble cast. They manage to take us, the audience, into a magical place where grown men can take responsibility for their terrible misdeeds and our hearts can be big enough to forgive them. The story, a tragedy that becomes a comedy –much in the way winter yields to spring– is set against a beautiful backdrop that looks like the framing of a fairy tale. Scenic designer Luciana Stecconi delivers whimsy and beauty to the stage– a stage that has seen so many awe-inspiring transformations.

In this case it’s superlative: The scrolling, calligraphic proscenium arch sets the stage as a signifier that we will be enjoying a cozy tale by the fire. Except the tale we get is a sad and harrowing story of jealousy, loss and poor choices that come back to haunt everyone. As the play advances we discover the proscenium has as much depth and dimension as the characters: A series of transformations that aid in establishing place and passage of time that look deceptively easy.

Within this storybook framing, the characters are real, solid and relatable, brought to life with honesty, candor and understated deftness, starting with King Leontes as played by Michael Tisdale. Yes, jealousy can destroy lives. Yes, miscommunication can erode a marriage. And yes, children are often the unhappy recipients and bearers of the parents’ mistakes. However, we can all still dream and hope that somewhere there is a happy ending for us all, an ending where love wins and where hearts can be changed in even the most intractable of paterfamilias.

The steady pacing of the dialogue, the beautiful songs that showcase the multifaceted talent of the cast and the seamless, delightfully blunt transitions as dictated by our narrator (played by Eric Hissom), make this production feel light and airy. You will hardly notice it lasts about two-and-a-half hours with a 15-minute intermission, because you will be hanging on the actors’ every word.

If you go:

What: The Winter’s Tale, by William Shakespeare

Where: Folger Theatre, 201 East Capitol Street

When: The play will run from March 13 through April 22. There will be several themed nights, as well as pay-what-you-can performances. To learn more and buy tickets, click here.

Why: In these troubled times, we all need a bedtime story to remind us that we can change, forgive and be better people.

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