The Winter's Tale: A Colloquial Summary
At Classics on the Rocks, we fancy ourselves somewhat known for our tongue-in-cheek, contemporary, relatable plot summaries in our playbills each summer. It's finally gotten to the point where they're just too giggle-worthy to keep to ourselves any longer. So if you've just been pretending to know what we're talking about when we reference plot points in The Winter's Tale, well, it's your lucky day.
WARNING: ALL of the spoilers.
Winter to Spring. Death to life. A bear. And a statue-ish. The end.
That’s pretty much all you need to know - but just in case here’s what’s what...
This king, Leontes, and his BFF Polixenes have been chilling in Sicilia. Leontes doesn’t want him to go. So he tells his preggers wife Hermione to convince him to stay. She gets the job done obvi. But then Leontes is like, “Why was she better at convincing him than I was? Is she sleeping with that MoFo?” So, he throws her in jail and tells Camillo to off Polixenes. (They run away instead.) Hermy has her baby while in prison. Her BFF and badass chick Paulina takes the baby to Leontes and says “Dude, can’t you tell it’s yours? It looks just like you!” Leontes wants none of it and insists it be killed.
At her trial, Hermione makes one final plea and leaves it up to the Oracle (mic drop). Turns out the Oracle knows what’s what - Herms is chaste and the king is cray and nothing will ever be right again until that lost baby girl is found. Then (MAJOR SPOILERS) they find out their son died during the trial. Sh** gets real. Leontes sees the error of his ways - too little too late bro. The queen grief-stricken dies (maybe).
Cut to the forest where this lord Antigonus is with the baby when a bear sneaks up on him....grrowwl....poor Antigonus. Srsly Shakespeare? Must this show get any darker???
But wait! An old shepherd and his son find the lost baby! She’s saved! Yaaasss, henny!
16 years go by… “Time” will catch you up on what you missed. So now, we’re in Bohemia, Polixenes is mad his son Florizel seems to be wandering off to hang with this chick in the country (guess who?). He and Camillo go scope it out...disguised.
At the Old Shepherd dudes house. They’re getting ready for a big ole country bash. The lost baby, Perdita, has grown up into a stunning babe and she is the hostess with the mostess. Everyone is there - even Polixenes and Camillo incognito. They dance and sing and have a blast. This minstrel rogue pick-pocket du jour Autolicus comes and takes advantage of the tomfoolery. It’s fun. Until Polixenes harshes everyone’s buzz by revealing his true identity and telling everyone they’ll be killed since princes can’t marry country chicks. Florizel and Perdita run away - Camillo, King of the Quick Getaway, sends them to Sicilia to meet up with Leontes.
In Sicilia, after a few twists and turns it all comes out that pretty Perdita is really a princess! (Say that 10 times fast) The old shepherd and his son are made highfalutin gentlemen for reuniting the king and his long lost daughter. They all decide to go pay their respects and check out this secret statue of Hermione that Paulina’s been hiding away. The statue is really cool. Like it looks SO life like. Like SO real. And... you know what? We’ll let you just watch the rest. Enjoy.