Jillian Schroeder, Contributing Writer
Somewhat paradoxical, magical and majestical – all are apt terms for Shakespeare Dallas’ production of William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” playing in Addison Circle Park Oct. 2-13.
The story follows a jealous king, Leontes, who in a truly Greek, fatalistic fashion allows his wild suspicions to destroy his happiness and his marriage. A wife, a son and a daughter are lost, and only in a Shakespeare play can the evil be undone in time for a conciliatory marriage at the very end.
As a play, “The Winter’s Tale” is quite hard to stage, for it is filled with an amalgamation of imagery that is confusing at best, and outright ridiculous if poorly done. Yet Shakespeare Dallas manages to preserve the Bard’s strange mix of influences without making the play laughable.
Shakespeare Dallas’ production is set in a roughly Victorian setting, with lush costumes and Romantic-era music excellently showcasing the play’s moral concerns. The passions of the characters vie with the rigidity of their setting, and beautiful dramatic tension is born.
“The Winter’s Tale” includes a Delphic Oracle as the source of wisdom, and has an almost Grecian understanding of self-fulfilling fate, and Shakespeare Dallas preserves this classical influence on the play with the large Rubens painting “The Judgment of Paris” superimposed on the back of the set.
Leontes accuses his best friend of corrupting his wife, and viewers are reminded of the young Greek prince who ran off with the most beautiful woman in the world and their ensuing fate.
The challenges of performing outside, in all kinds of weather, pose little problem for Shakespeare Dallas.
Samantha Eberle, a University of Dallas alumna who worked as assistant stage manager for the show, said the members of the group are “determined to put on a show come hell or high water … They have been a great example of why people get into theater.”
That determination really shows in this production. “The Winter’s Tale” is a strange play – take bizarre stage directions, such as “Exit, pursued by a bear.” It contains a tension between fairytale and reality, between the expected and the ridiculous, which, though challenging, does not faze Shakespeare Dallas. The group embraces the difficulties and keeps the play both charming and convincing with its enthusiasm. Its confidence and passion give the play life.
Leontes tells us that no “fine chisel could ever yet cut breath.” Shakespeare Dallas, however, has breathed life into this hidden gem of a fairytale.
Students can purchase tickets at the venue the night of the show for only $7. If you prefer to order your tickets in advance, you can buy them for $10 online.