THE WINTER’S TALE: A Summer’s Delight

by Jessica Graae

Janice Rowland as Hermione, Erik Mathew as Leontes, and Reuben Mitchell as Polixenes in Delaware Shakespeare Festival's THE WINTER'S TALE, running in Wilmington DE through July 30.

In its ninth year, The Delaware Shakespeare Festival presents THE WINTER’S TALE at Rockwood Mansion Park. The park makes a perfect open-air theater and the mansion lends a mystique and a three-dimensional touch to the production. The set, by Avista Custom Theatrical Services, consists of a few key pieces of furniture and two small matching rotating backdrops. It works beautifully with the mansion and the surrounding nature. David Stradley directs the talented cast of professional actors and college apprentices.

Returning to the festival is Erik Mathew (Leontes), who played Macbeth in last year’s production. Mathew’s thorough understanding of his character and dialogue make us forget he isn’t speaking modern English. Janice Rowland is convincing as Hermione, Leontes’ scorned wife. Molly Cahill Govern (Paulina), the festival’s artistic director, is always a pleasure to watch. A seasoned actor and director, her portrayal is both authentic and sympathetic. Isa St. Clair is lovely as Perdita, Leontes’ lost daughter. Sean Bradley is excellent as her gentle suitor, Florizel. Adam Altman (Camillo) returns to the festival with another fine performance.

Jake Blouch (Autolycus) gives one of the most captivating performances in the production. He accompanies himself on the guitar, singing original compositions by Michael Borton, the production’s sound designer and composer. With swagger and humor, Blouch draws the audience into the action. Also notable are Reuben Mitchell as Polixenes, Leontes’ childhood friend, David Strattan White as the Clown, Griffin Stanton-Ameisen as Antigonus and Tiernan Harcourt-Brooke as the Mamillius.

Shakespeare caresses our ears with his poetry and delights us with this wonderful play. Though jealousy and rage propel the drama, Leontes is ultimately humbled-not completely destroyed-as are some of Shakespeare’s other, less fortunate protagonists. The Delaware Shakespeare Festival gives Wilmington a much-needed summertime dose of classical theater and literature.

by William Shakespeare
Directed by David Stradley
July 15-30, 2011
Delaware Shakespeare Festival
Rockwood Mansion Park
610 Shipley Road
Wilmington DE 19803

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