By John Farrell
Depending on what scholarship you believe, Williams Shakespeare wrote 38 plays, perhaps a few more with collaborators, perhaps none (if you believe in one of the many pretenders to the throne).
Certainly, The Winter’s Tale, playing at Long Beach Shakespeare’s Richard Goad Theatre, is not in the first rank, or even in the second, of Shakespeare’s works. It is a strange play. The first three-fifths of the play is psychological tragedy and the last two-fifths is romantic comedy. It’s a bit hard for modern audiences to understand, and with an ending that must have been considered a fairytale even in Elizabethan times.
The story is about two kings, Randy Castrejón as Leontes and Benny Briseno as Polixenes. Leontes becomes extraordinarily jealous of Polixenes. He accuses him of having an affair with his pregnant wife Hermione (Natalie MacLachlan) and she dies when her newborn child is taken from her to be left on a remote rock to die.
That child, who grows up to be the lovely Perdita (Lindsay Zana) is found by the shepherd Mike Austin, who raises her as his daughter. Seventeen years later, she falls in love with Polixenes son and much confusion of both the romantic and tragic kind ensures before all is set right at the play’s end.
See this play for some great performances and some not-so-great, for Austin’s music, just so you can add it to your Shakespeare bucket list.
Tickets are $20, $10 for students. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. through March 30.
Details: (562) 997-1494; www.lbshakespeare.org
Venue: Richard Goad Theatre
Location: 4250 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach