Sunday, November 23, 2014

Review of Promethean Theatre Ensemble's The Winter's Tale

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Winter's Tale. It was directed by Brian Pastor and it was written by William Shakespeare. It was about a man named Leontes (John Arthur Lewis) and he thinks that his wife Hermione (Cameron Feagin) is in love with his friend Polixenes (Jared Dennis). And he thinks he's under a plot to be killed. But he is just imagining all this stuff. So it gets him into a lot of trouble. He even rejects his own daughter Perdita (Paige Reilly) after she is born! This play is half tragedy and half comedy/romance. You get a lot of different tastes of different kinds of literature. The first half is kind of like Othello and the second half is kind of like As You Like It. I really enjoyed this show. I had a lot of fun and I think Promethean Theatre does a lot of great stuff.

My favorite characters were Paulina (Megan DeLay), Hermione, and Leontes. I thought they were very strong characters because they stood up for themselves, especially the women, which you don't always see in Shakespeare. I really liked Hermione. I think she seemed like she was a great mother because she seemed very sweet and she didn't want anyone to be hurt even if they had done something wrong. I thought she seemed very very brave in her trial. Even I wouldn't be that brave at trial if I was under arrest by my own husband. And I thought she did a great job of expressing her bravery but also how scared she was. I loved Paulina. I thought that she seemed like a very sassy woman, and I like sassy women. She was probably giving food and water to the woman who was supposed to die that she had saved. She could have been killed for telling people that this woman was dead instead of just stored in a cabin in the woods. She talks to Leontes like he has done something wrong and he has to fix it, but she's not so mean to him that he doesn't like her. I think that he is influenced by Paulina by the way that she talks to him and that influences him in the way that he admits his mistakes. Leontes was a very messed-up person, but at the same time he was a very likable person because he's not just like, "Well, I've killed my wife. Whatever." He knows he's done something wrong with his life. I think it is better to admit when you're wrong than just pretending to be right, and he learns to do that. Shakespeare wanted this play to be about love and consequences, but also about how to win back what you have lost.

In the second act, it was very whimsical. I really liked the Clown (Brian Hurst), Autolycus (Dave Skvarla), and the Shepherd (John Walski) because they were all very funny and that added a whimsical note to it after the last act which was very serious. I really liked the part after Antigonus (Brendan Hutt) had been eaten by the bear and the Shepherd and his son, the Clown, were talking about the baby they had just found but there was gold with it and a bracelet and some jewelry. And they were like, "This the best day ever! Woo hoo! I just saw a man get eaten by a bear but I don't care about that anymore. This is awesome!" I thought that was funny because it made no sense. You just saw a man get eaten by a bear and now you're like "This is awesome! Woo hoo!" It was such a change in feelings. Autolycus is basically the comic relief of the entire play. What he does is basically come around and steals money from people. It shows you how stupid the people he steals from actually are, because his methods are just so laughable. He also sells ballads and jewelry. His ballads are very funny because they are about, like, a woman who turns into fish because she wouldn't love the man who was in love with her. But I think if she wasn't in love with him, I don't think she should have had to turn into a freaking fish. He should have just had to deal with it. If a woman does't love you, you just have to move along.

My one problem with the show was the bear (Janeane Bowlware), which I thought was a little bit culturally insensitive because the bear seemed to me to be dancing in an African style and wearing African garments. And it used to be that Africans in America were treated like animals and property. I don't think that the director and choreographer (Alexa Berkowitz) meant to do it; I think it was a mistake, but I wanted them to know that it sort of gave off a kind of bad feeling. I also don't blame the woman who played the role of the bear. I understand that they wanted to do something differently because the bear is probably the hardest part of The Winter's Tale. You can't have a real bear, and if you just dress someone in a bear suit it looks kind of ridiculous.

They have a character called Time (Diana Coates) because they have to show there has been a passage of time so you don't not recognize the baby Peridita who has become a woman. Time talks about the passage of time and what it is like to be the Time god. She slides everywhere so that she can have the passage of time everywhere and that no one has too much of a certain moment. This is another example of how direct address can be so great in some productions. Shakespeare wanted to have a person represent time as it is to the audience, so it makes sense for the person to be speaking to the audience. I really enjoyed her performance. It was very lively and it made me very interested in the monologue. She clarified things that the audience might not understand with movements.

People who like this show are people who like time, forgiveness, and fish-woman ballads. I think that people should definitely go see this show. I had a lot of fun and I think you will too.

Photos: Tom McGrath

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