Late Romances Bardathon Weekend: The Winter’s Tale

In recent years, I’ve grown especially partial to ideas and works that, by whatever means and through whichever combinations, exhibit and embody a perfect balance. While perceptions of “balance” (and indeed, “perfection”) may be rather subjective, I’d like to think some fundamentals apply, such as the prevalence of opposition in relatively equal proportions. And I’ve always thought The Winter’s Tale a prime example of this balance, with its two halves containing contrasting themes, language, characters, and locations, which, when seen as a whole, are revealed as gloriously complementary.

All this preamble is to foreground my fangirly gushing for the Globe’s performance of The Winter’s Tale under the direction of Michael Longhurst, which, overall, is the best production of the play I’ve seen so far. Leontes (John Light) always bugged me, but here, his explosive reactions to the “perceived” affair between his wife and BFF had me fearful for their lives. Hermione (Rachael Stirling) was exquisite, and, in contrast to Leontes’ rage, her dignified sotte voce deliveries had my heart bursting with simultaneous agony and admiration. I was also very much taken by Camillo (Fergal McElherron), whose devotion was not only beautifully steadfast, but also reminded me of the faithful Pisanio in Cymbeline. In fact, The Winter’s Tale and Cymbeline share similar themes of jealousy, wronged women, and (undeserved?) loyalty, which were all made more apparent by watching one after the other.

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