A Sad Tale's Best For Summer, Too

Just came from a matinee performance of The Winter’s Tale which I reviewed earlier here. Today’s was my third attendance at this production, and I have to say, re-reading my review, I take back none of my own analysis of the play, which I only find more confirmed the more times I read or see it, but I take back every peevish word I uttered about the production. Yes, I gave the play a very positive review initially, but that review was also filled with back-handed compliments: “a faithful, traditional production,” “no overarching concept,” “I’m of two minds about the performance,” “a bit arch and knowing” – I take it all back. This production deepens every time I see it, and deepens for everyone from the central players to the spear-carriers. The Sicilians flat? Let me call out in particular Sean Arbuckle as Camillo and Skye Brandon as the Gaoler, but really everyone in Sicilia was vibrating with life. And the same was true of Bohemia: Ian Lake and Cara Ricketts have grown into entirely persuasive lovers, Lake in particular displaying a manly passion that fully convinced me of his hereditary nobility.

And, most important, Ben Carlson’s Leontes gets more and more powerful. I do believe the play is changing him – I have a hard time believing you can play this role and not be moved, and I see him moved, and he’s not talking about Hecuba. Those tears on Hermione’s cheeks in the final scene are real, and Yanna McIntosh wouldn’t be crying if she didn’t feel from Carlson what I felt in the audience. In particular, one quibble I made of his performance earlier in the season – that he rushed through the “what have I done” moment after his son dies – I have to retract. He’s slowed that moment down, and only after a bit begins to pour it out more and more quickly. And it’s a much more powerful moment in consequence.

This is a wonderful production. Go see it.