Shakespeare’s assertion that “a sad tale’s best for winter” seems certainly to be ringing true this year: the deepening recession, the recent dreary snowpocolypse, Blago’s book deal; all these are enough to depress even the heartiest optimist. The play The Winter’s Tale, as performed by the Folger Theater company at the Folger Shakespeare Library, however, is a bright spot as winter wanes and not to be missed in this, its last weekend.
I saw the play on the early end of its run. It was an evening of firsts — the first time I had seen a play in the adorably authentic Globe-like theater as well as the first time I had seen The Winter’s Tale performed. I left feeling giddy and strangely uplifted, despite the fact that the first few acts are practically scarring. Though the play is a comedy, it hinges upon the extreme shift from dark to light, despair to hope.
As all first-rate Shakespeare performances do, the production brought out the inappropriate double-entendres and sexual puns and made the characters seem modern somehow modern. The overarching theme of storytelling was brilliantly drawn forth using the Mamillus character (played by Zophia Pryzby) as a child being read a bedtime story. I’ve also never seen a more unflappable and brazen female character in Shakespeare as Naomi Jacobson’s Paulina.
The curtain goes up on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. this weekend. Ticket prices range from $34-$55, depending on the show time and day and can be purchased through the Folger box office.