Hudson Shakespeare returns to the parks with it's 2009 "Mature Comedies" season. Each season, HSC delves further into the Shakespeare canon to explore some of his lesser done works and what makes them tick. In season, we explore buffoonish, satirical and outright farcical comedies but that explore darker territory such as infidelity, betrayal, unabashed anger, and cynicism. This season starts off with The Winter's Tale. Written in 1609, the show is grouped among the Bard's late Romances or fable plays of which The Tempest is part, the title of the play refers to stories often told around holidays campfires or hearths. Stories of faraway fictional lands, protagonishts in fantastic situations and with lessons to impart. Set in the lands of Sicilia and Bohemia, the show represents a Europe of the turn of the 20th century with the doings of the ruling classes and peasants alike.
Polixenes, King of Bohemia, has been on a lengthy visit to his old friend, Leontes, King of Sicilia. As the time comes for his friend to return home, Leontes begs him to stay a little longer, but Polixenes cannot be persuaded. However, when Queen Hermione asks him, he agrees to stay. Leontes becomes suspicious at this and takes it into his head that the two of them are guilty of adultery, convincing himself that the child Hermione is expecting is not his but Polixenes'.
He tries to persuade Camillo, a trusted courtier, to poison Polixenes but Camillo instead reveals the plot to Polixenes and flees with him to Bohemia. This only serves to fuel Leontes' rage. Before the court he accuses Hermione and has her imprisoned. Hoping for further proof of her guilt, he sends two courtiers to consult the sacred Oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
In prison Hermione gives birth to a daughter. Hoping that the sight of his child will bring Leontes to his senses, Paulina brings the baby to court. This, however, has exactly the opposite effect and Leontes orders Antigonus, Paulina's husband, to take the baby away and abandon it in the wilderness.
Leontes stages a trial at Hermione strongly protests her innocence but to no avail. Even when the Oracle declares that she is innocent, and that Leontes is a tyrant who will die without an heir if his lost child is not found, he defies this sacred truth. When news is brought of the death of their other child, the boy Mamillius, Hermione collapses with grief. Shortly afterwards, news comes that she, too, is dead. Leontes is finally overcome with remorse and vows to spend the rest of his life in atonement.
Antigonus, guided by the appearance of Hermione in a dream, brings the baby to the deserted shore of Bohemia and names her Perdita. She is found by shepherds, who bring her up as their own.
Sixteen years pass. Perdita has grown up, and Prince Florizel, Polixenes' son has fallen in love with her, believing her to be a humble shepherd's daughter.
Polixenes, however, has got wind of his son's attachment and he and Camillo, now a trusted confidant, set off in disguise for Perdita's cottage. They arrive just in time for the sheep-shearing festival, of which Perdita is the 'queen'. During the celebrations Polixenes discovers that Florizel plans to marry Perdita without his father's consent and, throwing off his disguise, threatens to disinherit his son.
Camillo persuades the young couple to flee in disguise to Sicilia and present themselves to Leontes as ambassadors from Polixenes. Longing to see his homeland again after many years in Bohemia, Camillo hopes to then persuade Polixenes to go with him in persuit of his son.
The young couple arrive at court, where the penitent Leontes has spent the last sixteen yers in atonement. Barely have they been welcomed, however, when Polixenes himself arrives with Camillo, followed by Perdita's shepherd family.
Perdita's true identity is discovered, amid general rejoicing. To crown the occasion, Paulina takes Perdita and Leontes to see the statue which has been made in memory of Hermione.
Childhood friends and kings of Sicilia and Bohemia Leontes (Toney White, left) and Polixenes (David Nash) share a story of their younger days with Leontes wife Hermione. Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
Queen Hermione (Deirdre Ann Johnson) is taken with her husband's old friend Polixenes (David Nash). She entertains him while Polixenes stays at their home arousing some suspicion in Leontes that there may be more to the two than friendly banter. Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
King Leontes (Tony White) confides his suspicions of Hermione's infidelity to his advisor Camillo (Michael Maher). Assured that his wife has been unfaithful to him with his best friend, he orders Camillo to kill Polixenes. Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
Unable to bring himself to kill Polixenes, Camillo tells the king of Leontes plan. Here Polixenes shows shock at this story and Camillo instructs Leontes won't be swayed and that they both should flee the kingdom. Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
A pregnant Hermione (Deirdre Ann Johnson), unknowing of her husband's suspicion of jealousy, plays with her son Mamillius (Monica Jones) and her attendant Emilia (Emily Holmes Hahn). Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
Queen Hermione (Deirdre Ann Johnson) is arrested on charges of adultery and is suspected of having a child with Polixenes. Here she pleads her innocence before her unrepentant husband with attendant Paulina (Angela Liao).
Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
Paulina (Angela Liao) arrives to tell King Leontes that Hermione has delivered a girl but has died in childbirth. Paulina again professes her queen's innocence before Leontes and that the child is his. Leontes, however, orders the child be taken out of his kingdom and abandoned. Word comes later that Mamilius, the king's son has died. Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
Leontes trusted aid and Paulina's husband Antigonus (Rick Cekovsky) takes the new born Perdita to abandon the child per the king's order but can't bring himself to do it. Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
Antigonus (Rick Cekovsky) encounters a bear and runs off leaving the baby Perdita behind. Monument Park, NJ
Perdita is found along with some gold left behind by Antigonus by an old Shepherd (Daniel Luger) and his son (Bjorn Pederson). Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
The charcter of Time (Claire Tyers) appears to tell the audience that 16 years have passed between the finding of Perdita by the Shepherd. Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
Perdita (Monica Jones) is courted by Polixenes son Prince Florizel (Rick Cekovsky). King Polixenes (David Nash) knowing of his son's love for a shepherd's daughter disguises himself as a laborer to crash the Shepherd's (Daniel Luger) sheep shearing party. Here he attempts to stop his son from becomng betrothed to her. Staib Park, Hackensack, NJ
At the same party, the Shepherd's son (Bjorn Pederson) entertains two local girls, Dorcus (Alice Yorke, left) and Mopsa (Emily Holmes Hahn). Here the son is being taken in by a local con artists Autolycus (Claire Tyers). Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
Prince Florizel (Rick Cekovsky) escapes his father disapproval by taking Perdita to the court of King Leontes (Tony White). Leontes for several years having done pennance for his role in his wife's and son's death, heartedly welcomes Polixenes son and his mysterious wife. Staib Park, Hackensack, NJ
The truth of Perdita's parentage is revealed and father and daughter are reunited. Polixenes having followed his son back to Leontes is reunited with his old friend. Paulina announces that she has a gift for the occasion - a life size sculpture of the long dead Hermione. Here the "statue" is revealed to the stunned gathering and it is revealed that Hermione never truly died. It was a ploy by Paulina to get King Leontes to repent for suspecting Hermione of infidelity. Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ
In the show's final reunion scene Hermione (Deirdre Ann Johnson) is reunited with her husband Leontes (Tony White) and Polixenes (David Nash). Prince Florizel (Rick Cekovosky) marries Perdita (Monica Jones). Monument Park, Fort Lee, NJ