By Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Adapted by John Barton and Adrian Mitchell.
Cast: 5m., 2w. (extras.) Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote, "Life's a Dream, the Calderón metaphysical masterpiece, is one of the finest fruits of the 17th-century golden age of Spanish drama … an ever pertinent play about the power of free will … seen at the Royal Shakespeare Company in a version both magical and lucid, playing to turn-away crowds. Rather than take the easy way out with a prose version, the adapters rewrote the play in English verse—serving the work's comic and tragic needs with a variety of forms including iambic pentameter, full frontal rhyme and ballads." "The action concerns the Polish King's incarceration of his son, Sigismund, who the omens say will prove a tyrant. In a controlled experiment, Sigismund becomes prince for a day, justifies the prophecies and is shunted back into his tower; only after he persuades himself that all that has passed is a dream, the young prince re-emerges to take over the kingdom and learn to rule wisely. Intertwined with this is the story of a Muscovite woman, Rosaura, who comes to Poland to avenge herself on her father and her lover, and who likewise learns the power of magnanimity and kindness … a masterpiece about time, fate, love, honor, death and the illusory nature of existence." (Michael Billington, The Guardian) Area staging.