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The Winter’s Tale at Shakespeare’s Globe

Abigail Banks

This current production successfully takes the audience back to Shakespeare's time through the use of authentic clothing, music, props, and even dance. As a groundling or a seated spectator this tale proves to be a joyful event for all.

It all begins in merry way. You are introduced to the characters as they laugh and joke with each other. However, one of the primary couples, King Leontes (Paul Jesson) and his Queen Hermione (Yolanda Vazquez) is torn apart by issues of trust. Leontes believes her of cheating and bearing child with his best friend King Polixenes (Peter Forbes). Though he has no proof but his own assumptions to guide him he sends his innocent wife to jail. After she births their daughter in this horrible prison Leontes refuses to have anything of the child and sends her away to have abandoned and left for dead. Suddenly, Mamillius, their firstborn son (Liana Weafer) dies and with him Hermione is struck dead with grief. Leontes realizes his mistake of accusations and begins a life served by grief and regret.

Though this tale seems tragic it takes a wild turn when father time, played by Roger McKern, allows sixteen years to pass. We see the young baby girl that was rescued from abandonment and raised by a country shepherd. She, Perdita (Juliet Rylance) and Florizel (David Sturzaker), the son of King Polixenes, wish to marry but the king refuses to agree because of her lowly rank. It is not until her identity is revealed to King Leontes as his daughter that they can wed.

At the end of the play the characters all go to view a statue of Hermione. However, the statue is not of stone but of the real living Hermione. Though unexplained whether she came back from the dead or had never died at all we see her miraculously step down and join her family. All that was tragic becomes merry again.

Though most of this play leads you to believe it is a tragedy it surprisingly ends in a joyful celebration of life and love. It has plenty of comic relief and musical segments that keep the audience awake and ready.

• The Winter's Tale is in repertory at Shakespeare's Globe until Saturday 1 October

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