A really good production of The Winter’s Tale, like this one, reveals one of the most fascinating aspects of Shakespeare’s development — his late style. Leontes, king of Sicily (Cooper Von Bruhn) plunges into toxic, Othello-like jealousy with the heedlessness of Macbeth flying toward regicide. The brutal efficiency with which he eliminates dissent gives us one of literature’s most convincing portraits of a tyrant. Yet, he’s far from the whole story. His advisor’s wife Paulina (Sierra Hastings) carries her argument straight to him, and it is her wisdom that prevails over his folly in the end.
Using the breadth and depth of the Hatlen Theater stage to maximum effect, the players delivered a clear and swinging account of the script’s complex doublings. Affairs in Sicilia run tragic and require powerful bursts of rhetoric not only from the accused queen Hermione (Kat Cleave), but also from Antigonus (Cyrus Roberts) and Camillo (Chris Nasser), both of whom attempt to dissuade Leontes from his reckless course. Bohemia, by contrast, presents characters both witty, like the rogue Autolycus (Harry Davis) and love struck, like the wonderful Perdita (Betty Galindo) and her suitor Florizel (Vishay Singh). The finale was particularly moving as these disparate kingdoms came together for a series of amazing revelations.