A Tale of Winter or A Child Hath Found Her Mother
Glasgow Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
In this modern version of one of Shakespeare’s so-called “problem plays,” that is, a job too much at odds with its own style to be called a comedy or a tragedy, the tables are set, the bunting is up, and everybody is ready to eat cake. Or this dense tale of misplaced envy, mental and physical exile, and eventual reunion, as today’s vernacular would call it: it is complicated.
In Marc Silberschatz’s production, performed by master’s students in the Contemporary and Classical Texts course of RCS, those complications are wrapped up in several other layers. He has no idea that his long-lost daughter Perdita has her own mind on risky liaisons, as if it were not enough for good King Leontes to throw his rattle out of his baby carriage after accusing his old friend Polixenes of doing something naughty with his queen Hermione.
Silberschatz’s own adaptation, with additional text by Thomas Dekker and influenced in part by the American author Kathryn Davis, flips the play on its head. The son of Polixenes Florizel, for instance, is a daughter called Calantha here. Both names apply to blooming flowers, and in a thoroughly modern kingdom, Calantha’s disguise as shepherd boy Doricles has a Yentl-like appeal as she checks out identities.
If such a change risks distracting Leontes from the mess, it also exposes him as a time-out man. A complex performance by Andy Camichel as Leontes, who is every bit the small-town dignitary posing for pictures at the church festival, drives the play. Catherine King’s interpretation of Live British Sign Language is incorporated into the action, and the ensemble is backed by Jaimee Aislyn de Witt as Leontes and Hermione’s son Mamillius, rendering the sweetest pair with Eddi Asher’s Perdita and Emilia Wallace’s Calantha. In the end, the cake may remain untouched, but winter is about to turn into spring.