Monday, February 19, 2024

The Winter's Tale by you know who

There is much to be said about our local 'classical' theatre company: Antaeus.  The space on Broadway in Glendale is intimate. the work by this long established company, in a former a store front has in the past, made magic.

Antaeus has tackled Shakespeare many times in the past, recently an innovative and  terrific presentation of The Tempest played to sold out audiences.  Wonderful double casts of King Lear went up when the company was still on Lankershim in a rag tag space that served them well.

The Winter's Tale.. a magical and manipulated tale, indeed, has a shot at magic and with Elizabeth Swain's direction brings my favorite part to life.   The Bear!

This short video that I found is a sort of crib sheet for understanding the play.  The tongue twister names, especially, do not roll trippingly .. to coin a phrase.. but once you figure out who's who, the story .. a little loopy and not the only  jealousy theme for the Bard.. moves on.

Copy and paste that link for a to speak. version of the story. 

Of course to see the play in person.. the best way.. it helps to have a handle on the plot.  I only like the play, actually.. because of the bear!   well.. and the magic.. and the reconciliation..  All's Well.. etc..

 Motive is always a factor  or should be.. in why any of us.. especially characters in plays do what they do.  Essentially, in The Winter's Tale, we have Othello echoed in Leontes (Adam J. Smith), the king of Sicilia. He's married to the beautiful Hermione (Kaci Hamilton) and is the father of his young son Maxmilius (Sabrina J. Li) But!  here's the rub.  Poixenes (Ned Mochel) has been a guest in the palace and the chemistry between Poixenes and Hermione awakens that Green Eyed Monster in Leones's imagination to stir things to a terrible pass.

If you watch that little video, it will essentially guide you along the primrose  path to the plot of the play. Twists and turns and turncoats and, sadly, some dead folks along the way

The business of this production turns on choices made by Ms Swain.  My idea of a good time is to be guided through the story with specific focus on the forward motion of the story. In this production the staging and stage pictures had me distracted and misdirected time and again.  Some casting seemed sideways, meaning that in this cast of able actors, my choices for some characters would have been different.  With Shakespeare, of course, language and the ability to speak it well, especially for American actors a challenge.  

With few exceptions, the rhythms of the dialogue came in fast and furious and ... furiouser.  Bigger! Faster! More dramatic!!  In my notes I used the term 'chewing the scenery' more than one time. 

Certainly there are  moments. and some fun stuff that in reading the play I'd over looked.    JD Culluma as Autolycus, a slick con man, shines and the device that several of the characters used: breaking the fourth wall works. Soliloquies  to the audience  mostly worked..

It's a simple bare stage with a grand use of drapes to delineate settings.  When it came time for the bear,  the scene , though a bit gruesome, was a creative approach I wish I'd thought of.

As Paulina, Ann Nobel

Ann Nobel

rocks as she finds her stride when standing up to the king. .It's her rhythms and pace and variations that give her character three dimensions.   Success is on the actor.

In all, the play works better than other versions I've seen but the business of profile presentation by the actors and the split focus often  draws attention to itself. 

I recommend this production because the heart of the play is basically served and our local Glendale Antaeus Company deserves patrons who appreciate the effort that goes into presenting classic theatre with panache.  The costumes are sort of  Victorian in design with cutaway coats for the men and long dresses for the women.  Hermione's hair style is a departure. 

Please see this show informed and listen for this line, "It Is An Heretic That Makes The Fire Not She Which Burns In It." The lessons of the past may be prologue to the present.

EMILIA/PERDITA: Shannon Lee Clair*
HERMIONE: Kaci Hamilton*
FLORIZEL/LORD I: Peter Mendoza*
POLIXENES: Ned Mochel*
PAULINA: Ann Noble*
LEONTES: Adam J. Smith*


The Winter's Tale

By William Shakespeare

Directed by  Elizabeth Swain


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