BWW Reviews: Ryan Lee's Reimagining of THE WINTER'S TALE Sheds New Light on a Shakespeare Classic
Ryan Lee's reimagining of William Shakespeare's THE WINTER'S TALE is an interesting take on the famed classic. The cast features James Michael Armstrong, Ethan Cadoff, Tess Frazer, Annalisa Loeffler, Clark Loeffler, Robert Meksin, Jon-Michael Miller, Jacob Callie Moore, Jeff Paul, Laurie Schroeder, Michael Selkirk, and Bill Tatum, with some performers pulling double duty on various parts.
Leontes, King of Sicilia, is convinced that his wife the queen is having an affair with his best friend, the King of Bohemia Polixenes. This wild suspicion leads to a series of events, including the imprisonment of his wife and birth and abandonment of the daughter he considers a bastard child. The show features two different time periods and settings: that of the land of Sicilia, and that of Bohemia, sixteen years later.
Shakespeare can be a difficult task to undertake in the age of falling attention spans and smart phones, but this team managed to pull it off for the most part (there will always be that reluctant theatregoer whose wife brought him along).
In this reimagining, Lee chose to set the show in a modern age, ranging somewhere from the late 80s to within the last ten years. Leontes' court consisted of men in women in suits boasting of a sale bin at a discount store: they were ill-fitting (mostly too big), mismatched, and just downright awkward. Act two however was like stepping into an early 2000s tween's dream, aka a Mary Kate and Ashley movie, meets a low-budget Rocky Horror. Which actually wasn't as odd as it sounds. The performances, however, were good enough to overlook any weirdness. The lighting and sound was sharp, with wonderfully subtle underscoring. Minus the odd Tron-like scene change music. The set was an interesting choice of floor to ceiling blinds that added to the modern feel. The backdrop successfully gave the feel of the two different environments when needed- let's forgive the trash bag backdrop strewn with shrubbery.
This is the whole Shakespeare sha-bang, so be ready to invest a few hours, intermission and all. If the rabid Shakespeare fanatic is willing to overlook some questionable design choices, the show is to be enjoyed by anyone who loves the language.
The Winter's Tale plays the following regular schedule through Saturday, March 15: Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m., Mondays at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15-18 and are now available online at www.workshoptheater.org. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the theater 1/2 hour prior to performance.