Shakespeare's greatest exploration of the cycles of human life. From the savage tragedy of jealous Leontes to the festive comedy of Perdita and Florizel, the play combines elements from each dramatic genre with Shakespeare's most searing poetry, concluding our season with a thrilling exploration of the healing, redemptive power of time.
Polixenes, King of Bohemia, has been visiting his boyhood friend Leontes, King of Sicilia, for nine months. He is now preparing to leave for home, but Hermione, Leontes' wife, asks him to stay. When he agrees, Leontes quickly grows suspicious, and fearing that Polixines and Hermione are having a secret affair, he orders his counselor Camillo to poison Polixines.
Camillo warns Polixenes of Leontes' jealousy, and they escape together to Bohemia. Leontes takes their flight as confirmation of his suspicions and throws Hermione in jail, where she gives birth to a daughter. Leontes disowns the child and orders that she be killed. Even when the oracle at Delphi affirms Hermione's innocence, Leontes remains obdurate. Only when his own son dies, and Hermione is also reported dead, does he repent.
Hermione's daughter Perdita is abandoned on the coast of Bohemia, where she is discovered and raised by shepherds. Sixteen years later, Perdita falls in love with Florizel, Polixenes' son, who resolves to marry her. Polixenes, believing Perdita to be the a shepherd's daughter, opposes the match, and the young lovers flee to Sicilia, where they meet the grieving Leontes.