“The Winter’s Tale” Given An Update At Mustard Seed Theatre

William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” is one of his last plays and, though entertaining, seems less sophisticated and complex than some of his better romantic comedies. Perhaps that’s why we don’t see it staged that often. Mustard Seed Theatre has given it a crisp and edgy rendition with an update to what they say is Seattle and Alaska, yet keep the original dialogue referring to Sicilia and Bohemia. As it says in the program, the settings are “imagined,” so the update retains the feel of the original.

Chauncy Thomas as King Leontes in Mustard Seed Theatre's production of "The Winter's Tale."

King Leontes and his pregnant wife, Hermione are entertaining his old friend, Polixenes when the green-eyed monster suddenly takes hold of the king and he plots to poison his friend and has his wife imprisoned and his young son isolated from her.  When Hermione gives issue, the young girl is sent to a remote island and abandoned.  When even the Oracle’s decision that all are innocent and Leontes is mistaken, he still refuses to believe. Hermione then dies before Leontes sees the error of his ways. As seventeen years pass, the young, abandoned Perdita finds the love of her life, Florizel who, of course, is the son of Polixenes. As only Shakespeare can, families are reunited- even the re-animated Hermione and all live happily ever after.

Chanucy Thomas is an excellent, volatile Leontes- even though his jealous anger seems to percolate a bit quickly. Wendy Greenwood is delightful as his charming wife while Richard Strelinger shines as the good friend. Charlie Baron gives a solid performance as Camillo, who conspires to save Polixenes while Ethan Jones and Antonio Rodriguez bring a delightful turn as father and son who discover the abandoned baby girl.

Adam Moskal  and Laurel Elliot are charming as the young lovers and Nancy Lewis is superb as the narrator, Raven and in several other roles. The cast, throughout, is strong and director Deanna Jent has brought us a delightful rendition of this seldom produced Shakespeare play. The wildly inventive set design of Dunsi Dai features a tower of media that turns to become the totem pole when we visit Alaska/Bohemia as well as a narrow paneled background that becomes a projected scene-setting cyclorama.

“The Winter’s Tale” is a charming bit of theatre and plays through April 29th at the Mustard Seed Theatre on the campus of Fontbonne University. Contact Mustard Seed Theatre at 314-719-8060 or at http://www.mustardseedtheatre.com for tickets or more information.

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