The Barnard Theater Department’s production of William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale was stunning from the moment the house opened. The set design, a senior thesis of Noriko Ohashi (GS ’13), was absolutely beautiful— a posh, well-lit room set on an otherwise empty stage— complete with a portrait of the royal couple of Sicilia, Leontes and Hermione. It amounted to a second backstage, alluding to the nature of court life and what it really meant to be “on” and “off” stage, both literally and figuratively. This beautiful Sicilia set would have been admirable on its own, but it outdid itself by unfolding into a completely different shape, perfect for the wild and carefree nature of Bohemia. Of course, such intense transformation required moments of scenery change by the actors which, while slowing down the pacing ever so slightly, were so worth it. The lighting design, by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, enhanced the scenery beautifully, creating a gorgeous backdrop for this tale. The costumes, designed by Anne Kenney, were beautiful in their own right, highlighting the differences between high-fashion Sicilia and countryside Bohemia.
In terms of acting, I was generally very impressed. Thesis students Lorenzo Landini (CC ’13) as Leontes, Daniel O’Neill (CC ’13) as Autolycus, and Tara Pacheco (CC ’13) as Hermione all performed admirably. Pacheco especially shone, both as a powerful queen and a woman fallen from grace, moving the audience to tears with her passionate yet controlled speech during her trial. Supporting characters, Jin Ha (CC ’13) as Shepherd and Gabrielle Beans as Clown (CC ’14), played wonderfully off of each other, and were simply hilarious. Clarisse Van Kote (BC ’13), Devin Lloyd (CC ’15) and Maria Diez (CC ’15) deserve praise for their ability to play fun-loving citizens of Bohemia as well austere Sicilian courtiers. These, and other solid performances, kept the acting quality high. However, this is not to say that there were no low points. Justin Alba’s (GS ’15) Polixenes was helped along by the fact that his scene partners were always strong. Lindsay Forcade (BC ’14) gave a passionate performance as Paulina, but oftentimes acted from a very muscular place, making her speeches melodramatic at times. Katie Bonnell (CC ’16) was a beautiful Perdita, exactly how one would imagine the character to look. However, her interactions with Prince Florizel (Julien Hawthorne, CC ’14), were wooden and stiff, often making it appear that Hawthorne’s Florizel was obsessed with her, not that they were madly in love.
How the two and a half hour running time seemed to fly by is a testament to all those who were involved in this production. The Barnard Theatre Department’s production of The Winter’s Tale offers a visually stunning, wonderfully acted, and uniquely designed night at the theater. If you were fortunate enough to snag a ticket before they sold out, I advise you to make good use of it. You’ll be glad you did.
Poster via Barnard Theatre