We’re already looking ahead… and wow is The Winter’s Tale an odd/random/bizarre one. The story goes a little something like this:
First half… Two kings (Leontes and Polixenes) are best friends, and one is visiting the other one, but has to leave. The king who is being visited (Leontes) doesn’t want his friend (Polixenes) to leave, so he asks his wife to convince him to stay. The Queen (Herimone) is suceessful in persuading the best friend to stay, but somehow the hosting king gets it into his head that his best friend and the Queen are having an affair and he goes insane with jealousy. The Queen (who is pregnant) is accused of getting pregnant by the best friend, and Leontes throws her in prision and tries to get one of his courtiers (Camilla) to poison his friend Polixenes. Camilla tells Polixenes that she is supposed to kill him, so he flees. The king Leontes also sends a messenger to the oracle at Delphi to see if Apollo can shed any light on the situation. Before the messenger returns, the court all tries to convince Leontes of the Queen’s innocence, but he denys them. While in prison, the Queen gives birth to a baby, who the king refuses to see, and forces another courtier to take the baby girl far away and let her die of exposure. Dion, the messenger to Apollo, returns and says the Queen is innocent. The king refuses to believe him, so the Queen dies as does his only son. Leontes realizes he was wrong and is remorseful. Meanwhile, Antigonus, the courtier sent to expose the baby so she dies, takes the baby away and leaves her on a sea shore where she is found and taken in by a kind shepherdess, and Antigonus is then eaten by a bear. (See, this show is random!)
Second half… it’s now sixteen years later. (Time makes an appearance as a character.) The baby, Perdita, has grown up into a lovely young woman, and the best friend king, Polixenes, has son that is two or so years older… and guess what: they fall in love. However, since Perdita has been raised as a shepherdess, it’s not appropriate for Florizel (the son and prince) to marry her. Because Florizel is sneaking off to see her all the time, his father and Camilla follow him and partake in a sheep shearing feast, where some random Satyrs show up and do a dance. Florizel and Perdita run off to get married, and end up back at the original court of Perdita’s father…. though neither of them know of their relation to the other. Eventually, the Shepherdess shows up and produces items found on Perdita when she was a baby thus proving her to be a princess and allowing her to marry Florizel.
But wait… there’s more! Because a new level of strangeness needs to be added to the play, the Queen Hermione is brought back to life (albeit aged…) and is reunited with a grateful Leontes.
What do you get when you add insane jealousy + satyrs + resurrection? Winter’s Tale!