Review: 'The Winter's Tale"

February 19, 2014
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

I have this thing about Shakespeare plays and that thing is this: I won’t read them until I see them. That policy has kept me ignorant of many of his works, but it has drastically increased my pleasure when I eventually have the opportunity to encounter them.

Such is the case with “The Winter’s Tale” (not to be confused with the movie currently—but not for long—playing at a theater near you).

Considered one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays”—meaning it doesn’t fall neatly into the tragedy/comedy/history labeling system, “The Winter’s Tale” has gotten a rare local production courtesy of IndyShakes and Wisdom Tooth Productions at the IndyFringe Building (through March 1).

With a minimal set, contemporary costuming, and small core of actors, some of the grandeur and gravitas is lost at the start. King Leontes’ gathering that opens the play may well be a Geist garden party for all the weight it seems to carry.

But soon the King’s power becomes clear. Barely did we have time to appreciate the peace and love that his jealousy destroys it. He’s Othello without a Iago in his ear, accusing his queen of cavorting with his best friend. His mistaken mindset gets maximized when his former pal escapes with the man Leontes ordered to kill him. So stubborn is Leontes that he won’t even listen to the intervention of the all-knowing Apollo.

Bad move. Horror ensues.

And, as you may have heard, a character exits “pursued by a bear.”

Intermission arrives and, with it, the feeling the Shakespeare has dug himself a hole too deep to get out of.

I won’t reveal too many Act II specifics, the better for newcomers to discover it as I did. Suffice it to say that the “Othello” tone shifts, in part, to “As You Like It” territory. We get comic action courtesy of a creative thief, a spring festival complete with country line dancing (switching out Shakespeare’s lyrics for “King of the Road” and “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” yields mixed results), and we are bathed in a sense of hope as two young lovers come together.

The production shortchanges the fun of disguise in the second act, favoring a cheap eyeglass-removing visual gag. And the lack of signs of aging diminishes some of the impact in a play that is very focused on time and the turning of the years.

But director Richard Roberts and company cleanly and engagingly deliver the play without gimmickry or excessive winking at its artifice. By performing it in the round (well, in the square), it focuses on character and words, demanding a focus on the part of the largely effective cast. The last transformative scene doesn’t quite meet its magical, cathartic potential, but Roberts has crafted a final, silent moment that inventively and beautifully solves a problem in this problem play.

After a long, long wait, I not only have seen “The Winter’s Tale” but, thanks to a modest but fine production, have become a fan. I look forward to seeing it again.


Post a comment to this blog

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry.

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).