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‘The Winter’s Tale’ at Folger (Review): Jest and Jealousy

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Following two seasons producing off-site, during the still-ongoing renovation of the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Folger Theatre at last returns to its intimate, historic space, and in an understandably celebratory mood.

Celebration resounds throughout Tamilla Woodard’s spry, modern-dress production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Of course, though proceedings commence with a birthday fête for a prince and close with an engagement party, the mood swings wildly in between, from exultation to fury to utter despondency and back again.The king of swing in that regard is the impulsive King of Sicilia, Leontes, portrayed by Hadi Tabbal with a passionate conviction in whichever direction the monarch’s fickle heart may turn.

Leontes and his queen Hermione (Antoinette Crowe-Legacy) joyously honor their 8-year-old prince Mamillius (Clarence Payne, alternating in the role with Richard Bradford) with a gathering that includes dear friend, Polixenes (Drew Kopas), the King of Bohemia.Then, stricken to learn that Polixenes plans to return to his home kingdom, Leontes pleads with him to extend his visit in Sicilia.

Appealing to his friend’s sense of loyalty and affection, Leontes even dispatches his pregnant wife Hermione to dissuade Polixenes from going.

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