The Winter’s Tale’s main plot was originally taken from Robert Greene‘s pastoral romance Pandosto, published in 1588, and is one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays. John Bell’s production stars Myles Pollard, Helen Thompson, Rory Potter and also newcomer Liana Cornell (Love Child, Schapelle) who says, “This play is both a tragedy and a comedy, shown from the perspective of the child Mamillius”.
Set in Sicily and told in two parts, the first involves King Leontes who wrongly accuses his pregnant wife Hermione of adultery and throws her in jail. When the baby Perdita arrives, the King forces Hermione to abandon her into the wild, but this doesn’t quite go to plan.
The second half of the play reunites us with the lost child who is unaware of her royal lineage. She and her partner Florizel strangely end up back at the King’s court, meeting King Leontes. Their identities are unveiled and themes of compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation come into play.
Cornell, whose dream it was to perform in this play, says, “John Bell is a dream. He is the kindest, most intelligent and patient man who consistently sees the play as a whole. He is pleasant to work with and has no ego. I learnt from everyone. It’s a strong ensemble play, especially in comparison to Richard III or Hamlet, and this is made more prominent due to John Bell’s choice of dual casting in our production.” (LK)
Mar 1-29, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, $35-79, (02) 9250 7777, sydneyoperahouse.com
BY LYNDSAY KENWRIGHT