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CSC “A Winter’s Tale” Will Thaw Audience’s Hearts

Review by Jenifer Moore of ”A Winter’s Tale”: Cincinnati   Shakespeare   Company

It’s been quite some time since I’ve attended a performance of a Shakespeare play (all on my own account and not the playwright’s beautiful works), and I did not know what to expect on the opening night of The Cincinnati Shakespeare Theatre’s interpretation of “The Winter’s Tale”. While I am familiar with Shakespeare’s other famous works (Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, etc), I’ve never read or seen this one in action. However, from the moment the lights went down in the intimate setting, I was in a spell. Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the play is a storied tale of family ties filled with romance, jealousy, love and redemption. King Leontes of Sicilia, believing that his pregnant wife has been unfaithful, becomes enraged, jailing her. He eventually banishes his newborn from his world into the wilderness. It is only then after the truth is revealed, that Leontes realizes that he’s made a grave mistake and is full of remorse. However, a turbulent course of action has been set with consequences for years to come.

The first half of the play is poignant and emotionally heavy with monologues served from the heart by the company’s amazing cast. The cast beautifully balances the dramedy of the play delivering heart-wrenching monologues in the beginning. Brent Vinstrup is great in his role as King Leontes, offering drama and theatrics due to the supposed betrayal by Hermione, while in contrast, Kelly Mengelkoch is graceful and demure in her performance as the falsely accused wife.

Shannon Mooreis to be applauded for her visionary set that matches the overall tone of the play. Tall, barren trees take up the majority of the stage connecting with the symbolism of the play of how empty one’s life can become in the absence of family.

The play takes somewhat of a dramatic turn in the second act, in a good way, offering comedic quips and upbeat melodies that give levity and relief to the audience. Billy Chace owns the second act as Autolycus. He moves with a whimsical and joyful air giving punch lines at the best moments and pulling laughter out of attendees. Also, as mentioned before, the singing and dancing is somewhat of a uncanny metaphor for the entire play for me. I liken it to the scripture in Psalms which says “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Leontes has weeped for many nights due to his own actions. However, after sixteen years of living with remorse he learns a powerful lesson about redemption, thus restoring joy to his life. “The Winter’s Tale” teaches the important lesson the everyone deserves a second chance, as long as the atone for their mistakes.

While winter can be seen as cold and dreary, Cincinnati Shakespeare brings a bit of warmth and sun to audiences of all ages with “The Winter’s Tale”. The play is part of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 25th Anniversary season and will run until March 23, 2019. Tickets can be purchased online, by calling the Box Office at (513) 381-2273 ext. 1 or in person seven days a week noon – 5pm at The Otto M. Buddig Theater 1195 Elm Street Cincinnati, OH 45202.