Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

The Winter's Tale
Folger Theatre
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Kayleandra White and Jonathan Del Palmer
Photo by Brittany Diliberto
As construction continues on the renovation and expansion of Washington's Folger Shakespeare Library, the Folger Theatre invites audiences back into its Elizabethan Theatre with a warm-hearted and loving production of William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale.

Director Tamilla Woodward shows generosity and forgiveness in her vision of Shakespeare's late romance–serious and borderline tragic in the first act, lighthearted in the second–placed in a contemporary setting, beginning with a party celebrating the eighth birthday of Mamillius (Richard Bradford, who alternates with Clarence Michael Payne), son of the king and queen of Sicilia, Leontes (Hadi Tabbal) and Hermione (Antoinette Crowe-Legacy). However, Leontes has come to the false belief that Hermione has been unfaithful to him with the visiting Polixenes (Drew Kopas), his childhood friend and the king of Bohemia, which leads to sorrow and lost opportunities to connect. Sixteen years later, Florizel (Jonathan Del Palmer), son of Polixenes, falls in love with the charming Bohemian shepherdess Perdita (Kayleandra White), who has no idea that she is actually Leontes' daughter.

Of the dedicated cast of performers, the one who seizes attention throughout is Kate Eastwood Norris as Paulina, Hermione's chief attendant and advocate. Tall, a woman of substance in her elegant blue suit (just one of Sarah Cubbage's striking costumes), Norris embodies rectitude and a belief in truth, and as Paulina she is the architect of the play's resolution. Tabbal subtly telegraphs Leontes' insecurity from the beginning of the play, while Crowe-Legacy aches as she tries vainly to ease her husband's suspicions with logic and sincerity.

Then comes the second act, which examines issues of trust and belief through a generously comic lens (and much more amusing costumes). There's Autolycus (Reza Salazar), a petty crook and charmer in a mismatched set of clothes, riding onstage on a child's bicycle and inviting the audience to join a singalong; the father and son shepherds (resolute Stephen Patrick Martin, goofy Nicholas Gerwitz) who accept Perdita's presence as a strike of magical fortune; and Polixenes and his attendant Camillo (Cody Nickell), who put on silly disguises to infiltrate the sheep-shearing festival where Perdita and Florizel make plans to marry.

Raul Abrego Jr. has created a streamlined scenic design that uses staircases, tall sliding doors, and glass-enclosed spaces to delineate the succession of scenes in both austere Sicilia and verdant Bohemia. Max Doolittle's lighting design incorporates an ingenious bit of shadow puppetry at a key moment.

The Winter's Tale runs through December 17, 2023, at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Elizabethan Theatre, 201 E. Capitol St. SE, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 202-544-7077 or visit

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Tamilla Woodward
Mamillius/Time: Richard Bradford or Clarence Michael Payne
Hermione: Antoinette Crowe-Legacy
Shepherd's Son: Nicholas Gerwitz
Polixenes: Drew Kopas
Antigonus, Shepherd: Stephen Patrick Martin
Camillo: Cody Nickell
Paulina: Kate Eastwood Norris
Florizel: Jonathan Del Palmer
Autolycus: Reza Salazar
Ensemble: Sabrina Lynne Sawyer
Leontes: Hadi Tabbal
Perdita: Kayleandra White