Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Tempest

On Saturday night, I went to see a production of Shakespeare's play The Tempest, which was magical. It was a student produced and directed production, but I think they pulled it off incredibly well. The Tempest is one of Shakespeare's later plays, and some say that the character Prospero was based on Shakespeare himself. The play concerns the inhabitants of an island, and a party who is shipwrecked on the island. The Tempest is more than just a romance: it is a contemplation on magic, dreaming, illusion, and music. The cast includes an exiled duke turned magician, a beautiful princess, a usurper, a monster who speaks beautiful words, and a spirit desperate for freedom. I am going to try my hand at reviewing the play, and give you some details on the choices they made.

Sets and Costumes: The costumes in the play were simple but attractive, and the set was spectacular. Prospero the magician was played as an artist, complete with paint spattered jeans and t shirt, and a thoughtful appearance. The set was multiple tall shelves filled with lamps, books, art, and knick-knacks. There was creative lighting inside the shelves, which made the stage glow. The artwork in the play was all beautiful, and made by students. There was a large easel and a huge pile of books at the front of the stage, and this and the shelves were the only set throughout the play. It gave the play an air of illusion that only those in Prospero's favor could see his home and art studio.

The characters were all well played, and some interesting choices were made. The monster Caliban was played by a woman, which was unusual but worked very well. Miranda was a wonderfully innocent princess who fell in love easily, and Prospero was quiet but powerful, and artistic. Ariel the spirit was eager to serve, yet at the same time was desperate for her freedom.

As a student directed play, I think this was amazing. When you perform Shakespeare, you must make choices well because the audience will expect it to be good quality. The cast was great, although had some problems projecting and speaking clearly enough to be heard in the back. The tone in the play was artistic, and the themes of music, dance, and art were clear and beautifully worked out. The musical choices worked wonderfully, and overall the play was magical, as it should be. It was a great first Tempest for me to see, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


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