In Hermione’s trial, she has lost everything, so fears nothing.
Sir, spare your threats: The bug which you would fright me with I seek.
To me can life be no commodity:
The crown and comfort of my life, your favour,
I do give lost; for I do feel it gone,
But know not how it went. My second joy
And first-fruits of my body, from his presence
I am barr’d, like one infectious. My third comfort
Starr’d most unluckily, is from my breast,
The innocent milk in its most innocent mouth,
Haled out to murder: myself on every post
Proclaimed a strumpet. Now, my liege,
Tell me what blessings I have here alive,
That I should fear to die? Therefore proceed.
Hermione’s open, loving nature adds to the power of her words throughout the play. Leontes finds his power in a very different way, by attempting to control, distort and intimidate, which gives us a couple of good public battles to play with, the second of which is at her trial.
I love playing Hermione at her weakest point, as she finds strengths in her immoveable grace and faith. Leontes’ contrasting quality and voice is always exciting to be up against, as she bats off the King’s rage and the twisted fits of obsession that he machine-guns at her.
When we arrive in court, Hermione has been through the worst and has had literally everything taken away from her, including her newborn baby. Considering these mental strains and her sheer physical place of weakness, I have to work harder at finding the balance of passion and dignity in the testimony which Shakespeare gives her. She has been stripped down publicly, but I don’t want her to be robbed of her guts, wit and honour too.
Sarah Louise Davies