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  The Winter's Tale Reviews
The Winter's Tale
Goodman Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Recommended

"...I say "traditionally" because director Robert Falls' interesting and avowedly secular new production at the Goodman Theatre does not leave you with all those lion-in-winter feels. He's changed the play in fairly fundamental ways - most notably, he does not even remotely want to let Leontes off the hook. In this production, his redemption is, to a large extent, delusional. His trail of destruction is not ameliorated by the generous suffering of others; it abides. At the end of the play, for reasons I won't here reveal, you half expect the police to show up and haul Leontes away, just when he thinks the universe finally has heard his prayers of guilt."
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Chris Jones



Daily Herald- Recommended

"...But Falls' approach to Shakespeare's infamous "problem play" -- with its wild shifts of tone and time -- is not solely a stunt of political commentary. "The Winter's Tale" defies strict labels of tragedy and comedy, and Goodman's cast and crew lavish plenty of love and care on this drama toward its happy conclusion."
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Scott C. Morgan



Time Out Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...While the sight of a kindly monarch suddenly breaking bad might call to mind recent developments on Game of Thrones, the elegant incisiveness of the language, especially in the crueler bits, is more reminiscent of Veep. Falls is not precious with Shakespeare’s text; he trims a few scenes and gives his clowns license to go off script, and this lack of reverence is refreshing. If the production’s approach leaves one major casualty—the play’s famous bear—it makes up for it with a truly spectacular sheep. Falls’s boldest stroke is a simple one: He opens the play with the sight of Leontes and Hermione’s doomed young son, Mamillius (Charlie Herman), dressed up in a bear costume, and he ends the play with that same image: a loss no amount of repentance can undo. Leontes may be forgiven in the end, but Falls will not let us forget."
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Alex Huntsberger



Stage and Cinema- Recommended

"...All's well that ends well - but this Shakespeare's tale of evil envy and pointless pity is hardly much ado about nothing. A true tragicomedy, it's, well, as you like it. However preposterous its massive make-believe, his fairy tale demands a dedicated telling. That's not always the case with Robert Falls' much-awaited Goodman Theatre revival. Marred by some schizoid storytelling, a domestic tragedy morphs into a forced farce, then sobers up into a much-desired family reunion."
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Lawrence Bommer



Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Recommended

"...The Winter's Tale is not one of Shakespeare well-known plays with critics believe it was inspired by George Peele's play The Old Wives' Tale of 1590, in which a storyteller tells "a merry winter's tale" of a missing daughter. This genre-bending storyline makes one think that somehow the television channel abruptly changed or in Shakespeare days, a few pages of his lost plays got mixed up into The Winter's Tale, but who could argue with the brilliance of Shakespeare."
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Rick and Brenda McCain



Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...For those of you who fear attending any work of Shakespeare, except maybe "A Midsummer Night Dream", you can rest easy that you will enjoy the new production of "The Winter's Tale" at The Goodman Theatre. Under the skillful eye of its director, Robert Falls, this "hybrid" comedy/tragedy, will have you laughing and crying during its 2 hours-15 minutes ( one intermission)."
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Alan Bresloff



NewCity Chicago- Recommended

"...Falls' grasp on the overtly dramatic first act of this production, set in the kingdom of Sicilia and brought to life by the focused and precise light (Aaron Spivey), costume (Ana Kuzmanic), sound (Richard Woodbury) and scenic design (Walt Spangler), provides a startling masterclass in communicating the clear, concise storytelling of Shakespeare's language, even amidst a narrative as densely plotted as this one."
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Ben Kaye



Chicago Theatre Review- Recommended

"...This is a production that will appeal to theatergoers who are already fans of Shakespeare, but enjoy seeing his plays in a new light. It will delight other audiences who are not familiar with this "problem" play because it's so seldom produced. But with his usual valor and creativity, Robert Falls has adapted the script and directed his production in a way that's easily accessible to everyone. And, for those trying to save their pennies, remember that in "The Winter's Tale," you're getting two plays for the price of one in this often delightful version of one of the Bard's romances."
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Colin Douglas



Chicagoland Theater Reviews- Highly Recommended

"..."The Winter's Tale" works, primarily because of Dan Donohue's superb work as Leontes. In an absorbing but never melodramatic performance, Donohue sells Leontes as a man inexplicably consumed by sexual jealousy. There is no foreshadowing to his sudden emotional upheaval. It just happens, but Donohue is believable both as the maddened and then remorseful king. Without a credible Leontes, the play's narrative holes jump out at the audience and the story becomes almost laughable."
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Dan Zeff



Third Coast Review- Recommended

"...Falls navigates all this with deft confidence, perhaps the most essential ingredient in keeping a show as varied and curious as this one on track. More than once, I found myself involuntarily drawing comparisons to modern matters-a near-authoritarian ruler boosted by an inner circle unwilling to challenge him, a woman's autonomy and security pulled out from under her at the slightest hint of a man's bruised ego. In the course of a single evening, The Winter's Tale will at times feel silly, chaotic, deeply tragic and more; and it's all by design."
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Lisa Trifone



The Hawk Chicago- Recommended

"...The return to Sicilia for the finale does an admirable job of mixing the minimalist form of Act I with some of the artistic embellishments of Act II. This return to form refocuses the production's time and space, which in turn re-engages the audience before fading to black. So what's the verdict here? The Winter's Tale is visually breathtaking and overall engaging, but, like a Chicago "spring," the transitions can be jarring."
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Emily Schmidt



Chicago Theater and Arts- Recommended

"...What makes this Goodman production fascinating is the way artistic director Robert Falls re-imagines the two stories by paring the play down to two hours, 15 minutes in a way that highlights what he sees as stand-out points."
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Jodie Jacobs



Chicago On Stage- Recommended

"...There is something here to appeal to everyone, whether you like your Shakespeare dark and serious, lighthearted and merry, or even magical. The Bard in this play was clearly, as his career wound down, trying to do things outside of his long standing formulas, and the result, though mixed, is still fun to watch. Falls' The Winter's Tale may not be the definitive production of this somewhat problematic play, but it nonetheless effectively captures its many moods, and is another strong offering by the esteemed director, who continues to prove that there are very few who can match him when it comes to staging the classics."
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Karen Topham



PicksInSix- Highly Recommended

"...The tough assignment of framing the tragedy of the adultery narrative in this brilliantly cast production falls on Donohue's Leontes, whose single-minded rage is so immediate and rendered with such force and strength of will that his eventual collapse is total. Fry's superb portrayal-a profound depth of emotional confusion and anguish-is inspired, as is Hosner's stalwart portrait of Polixenes, the dutiful Camillo played by Henry Godinez and the searing performance by Christiana Clark as Paulina, who defends the Queen at all costs."
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Ed Tracy



Picture This Post- Recommended

"...Taken in total, the story adds up to an exploration of unchecked human impulse. Equally, it offers the potential for lessons learned. Repentance overcomes error in THE WINTER'S TALE. The younger generation - offspring of Leontes and Polixenes and their friends - face life with an exuberance that inspires their elders. As Shakespeare makes these leaps and bounds between lightness and darkness, his audiences remain on the edge of their seats."
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Susan Lieberman