Women speak truth to power in TFANA’s ‘Winter’s Tale’
A bear that dances like a sports team mascot, a Broadway actor who steals wallets from the audience and folk-singing actors are all on the menu in Arin Arbus’s direction of “The Winter’s Tale” at the Theater for a New Audience (TFANA). With sketchbook sets and dreamlike costumes, TFANA offers a fresh take on Shakespeare’s tragicomedy: honing in on the role strong women have to play in sorting out the problems brought on by misogynistic paranoia and ego. It’s a theme that dovetails well with today’s outspoken push against gender- and class-based inequality.
“The Winter’s Tale” is a tricky play for any theater company to tackle. Jumping from one genre to the other, it almost seems as though the story’s various parts could have been written by different people.
The story begins in Sicilia in an unspecified ancient time (the characters believe in Greek gods). Polixines, the king of Bohemia (Dion Mucciacito) has been visiting his best friend, Leontes, king of Sicilia (Anatol Yusef) for some months. Leontes becomes suddenly convinced that Hermione (Kelley Curran), his pregnant queen, has been sleeping with Polixenes, and orders his valet, Camillo (Michael Rogers), to poison the visiting king. Camillo, seeing the error of his master’s judgment, warns Polixenes and takes off with him to Bohemia, leaving the queen and her unborn daughter at the mercy of the still-fuming Leontes.