“THE WINTER’S TALE” EXCITING AT EDGERTON PARK
By Bonnie Goldberg
The ugly trait of jealousy consumes Leontes, the King of Sicilia, causing him to turn against his beloved wife Hermione and his friend since childhood, Polixenes, from the neighboring kingdom of Bohemia. Because Leontes accuses them of the sin of infidelity, he, therefore, casts the legitimacy of his newly born daughter into question and has her banished to the desert of Bohemia where she is rescued and raised to womanhood by a shepherd.
Such is the convoluted plot of William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” being performed in the lovely and idyllic setting of Edgerton Park in New Haven by Elm Shakespeare Company evenings, Tuesdays to Sundays, at 8 p.m. until Sunday, September 5.
Billed as a comedy, “The Winter’s Tale” is like the season itself, cast initially in shadow and darkness, the decidedly blackened soul of Leontes who, despite the reassurances of his minions to the contrary, believes his wife and best friend of betraying him in the most base and deceitful of ways. Leontes, portrayed powerfully and vindictively by Mark Zeisler, feels death is the appropriate punishment for the pair of supposed infidels.
In their defense, his spouse Hermione, captured in all her purity by Nadia Bowers, and Polixenes, the noble Eric Martin Brown, do not understand these accusations and protest their innocence to no avail. What is Leontes’ proof of their crime: that Polixenes succumbs to the gracious Hermione’s entreaties to stay longer in Sicilia when he had previously refused the invitation issued by Leontes.
The loyalties of Camillo (Tracy Griswold) and Paulina (Sarah Peterson) are ultimately rewarded as the play’s tragedy turns to comedy when, after the passage of sixteen years, Shakespeare does what he does best and guarantees that “all’s well that ends well.” The next generation, Perdita (Samantha Brock Cullen), the abandoned daughter, and Florizel (Joshua Wills), the heir to the throne of Bohemia, meet and fall in love. The roguish Autolycus (Aaron Moss) serves as a court jester to liven the festivities.
Artistic director James Andreassi creates a stirring tale of human frailty and final redemption. While the performances Tuesday-Sunday at 8 p.m. are free, suggested donations are adults $20, students $10 and children 12 and under $5. Remember to bring chairs, blankets, picnics and bug spray.
Plan to attend the Gala and Auction for the benefit of the Elm Shakespeare Company on Thursday, September 2 at 5 p.m. at Edgerton Park, Cliff Street entrance, New Haven. Bidding is now open online at elmshakespeare.cmarket.com. Some intriguing items include a hot air balloon ride for two, four tickets to the September 24, 7:05 p.m. Yankee-Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium and great vacations locally and internationally. Call 203-393-1436 for more information. Proceeds from the Gala benefit programs of Elm Shakespeare Company, in addition to professional performances of classic theater, include educational outreach programs throughout the year.
Tickets for the Gala may be purchased online at www.elmshakespeare.org and are $175 for the Patron category and $100 for the Friend category. New this year is a $75 ticket for Patrons and Friends to bring newcomers to Elm Shakespeare as their guests at a reduced rate.
On Sunday, September 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., bring the family to “Sunday in the Park” at Edgerton Park for a silent auction, white elephant sale, book and plant sale, food and drink, pony rides, farm animals and more. Admission is free.
Watch how Leontes puts the fate of his family at risk, tests the convictions of his heart, and miraculously has the opportunity to restore almost all that he has lost.