Last night audiences at McCarter Theatre were privy to a very special treat — Rebecca Taichman’s take on Shakespeare’s Winter Tale. Taichman has done plays before, both taking on Shakespeare and being done at McCarter. But, this being a play that “has everything, really,” as lead actor Mark Harelik puts it, people were doubly excited, and doubly as anxious to see if Taichman could pull it off. Turns out she can, and with flying colors, too.
The Winter’s Tale is a story about King Leontes, and how he believes that his wife, Hermione, is having affections for his best friend. Acting upon his jealousy he imprisons her, leaving her to give birth to their child in her jail cell; and then later having that child abandoned. Only after he can no longer have Hermione at all, and after she starts haunting his dreams, does he begin to realize his deep love for her, and need to be reunited with her once again.
Taichman has only a small cast for this production, so many characters assume many different roles — and many, many different costumes — throughout the play’s entirety. Mark Harelik takes on the main role of King Leontes, while Hannah Yelland (Tony-nominated for 2011’s Brief Encounter) will be playing the part of Leontes’ wife, Hermione.
The play, directed by Taichman, eliminates parts of the script that are difficult for audiences to follow; and set after intricate set by Christine Jones pulls this great show together from beginning to end. Opening night is over, but you can catch The Winter’s Tale at McCarter Theatre in Princeton until April 21.