King Leontes’s childhood friend King Polixenes is visiting Sicilia and Leontes wants him to stay a bit longer. Polixenes insists he must return to Bohemia so Leontes sets his wife Hermione to the task of convincing him otherwise. When clever Hermione succeeds in riddling Polixenes into extending his stay she sows the seeds of a supposed infidelity in the mind of her obsessive husband. She and her newly born daughter are banished to their deaths. Needless to say, Polixenes flees before Leontes’s henchmen can kill him too and Leontes is left alone and heirless.
This is Shakespeare, of course, so all is not what it seems. Not everyone who dies stays dead and not everyone who is royally choked remains so, because what’s a little murder between friends and lovers.
The tale is as dark as a winter’s day and ergo reflected as such in the first three acts: solemn performances of solemn text. There are some interesting choices in sound design, some more effective than others. In most instances the soundtrack aids in filling in the visual gaps on stage, however, the Bollywood dance number feels, though not unpleasant, a bit out of place. Other than this somewhat uplifting opening number in the first half of the show there is little indication of what is to come in the second half of the show and we are left to mill around in sorrow during the intermission.
Where acts one through three send you to the depths of despair acts four and five have you rolling in your seat. Granted once one tumbles face first to the slick, damp ground there is little need be done that won’t seem somewhat humorous thereafter, we are indeed joyously rescued from the pit of pessimism with the introduction of pickpocket Autolycus (Ben Elliott) who quite frankly walks away with the entire show tied up in a neat little sac of comedic gold.
There are a lot of things to like about this show (so don't despair too deeply during the first half for you will be rewarded) and actors Kevin MacDonald (King Leontes) and Sereana Malani (Hermione) do their living best to escort us through the heavy text. I would definitely recommend reading the play first though, or at least give it a Google summary search.
For a link to tickets click HERE. Bard on the Beach runs until September 23, 2017.