The Winter's Tale

Groundling Theatre Company's inaugural production is a moving tragicomic feast

Presented by Coal Mine Theatre
A Groundling Theatre Company production
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Graham Abbey

Tom McCamus and Lucy Peacock. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Back in a cozy new venue for a second season, The Coal Mine continues to bring exciting indie theatre to Toronto's east end. This month, the company presents Groundling Theatre's inaugural production of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale directed by Graham Abbey featuring a powerhouse cast including Tom McCamus, Lucy Peacock and Brent Carver.

The Winter’s Tale chronicles the descent of Leontes (McCamus), the King of Sicilia into a world of jealousy, murder and conspiracy when he falsely accuses his queen Hermione (Michelle Giroux) of an infidelity with his oldest friend Polixenes (Patrick Galligan), the King of Bohemia. Leontes orders Camillo (Roy Lewis) to kill Polixenes but the honest nobleman warns him instead and toether they flee to Bohemia. Upon receiving news that his wife and young son, Mamillus (Callum McAlistair), have died under the strain of public humiliation, and believing his newborn daughter to be not his own, the vengeful Leontes orders the child to be abandoned on the remote shores of Bohemia. Hermione's friend Paulina (Peacock) shames him for his cruelty and he is ultimately crippled by regret and sorrow.

Meanwhile, the abandoned child finds a home with a kind Old Shepherd (Robert Persichini) and his clownish son (Mark Crawford). Sixteen years later, as represented by Time (musician George Meanwell), we find that Perdita (Sarena Parmar) has grown into a beautiful young woman. The second half of the play concerns her romance with Florizel (Charlie Gallant) who turns out to be the son of Polixenes. Set against a pastoral backdrop, the young couple celebrate their love with song and dance joined by friends and Autolycus (Brent Carver), an impish local pedlar/pickpocket. Their merriment comes to an end when Polixenes arrives with Camillo and discovers that his son is engaged to wed without his permission.

The story comes full circle when Perdita and Florizel return to Sicilia and the young woman's true aristocratic identity is revealed. Friendship and faith are restored as Leontes and Polixenes come together in support of their children and a statue of Hermione magically comes to life to greet her lost daughter.

This intimate, simply staged production boasts powerful and compelling performances that beautifully highlight Shakespeare's themes of jealousy and forgiveness. The humour in the play is also skillfully mined by Crawford as the young Shepherd or Clown, and in Carver's wonderfully eccentric Autolycus. A remarkable debut from Groundling Theatre. Don't miss it!

The Winter's Tale runs until February 20, 2016 at the Coal Mine Theatre. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Tue, 2016-01-26 - Sat, 2016-02-20
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