Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Tempest"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark

"The Tempest"

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Jon Ferreira
Original Music Composed by Dawson Hill & Chris Montecalvo

Musical Director/Keyboards Dawson Hill
Percussion Chris Montecalvo
Choreography by Lisa Palumbo
Lighting Design by Annie Croner
Set Design by Curt Klump & Jon Ferreira
Costume Design by Jon Ferriera & Melanie Gillis
Assistant Director Katie Toohill

Alonso King of Naples.......Alice Curley
Sebastian His Brother..........Sam Jones
Ferdinand His Son...........Benjy Schirm
Prospero.....................Jason Beals
Antonio His Brother....Timothy McDermott
Miranda His Daughter.........Emily Evans
Gonzalo.......................Bruce Kaye
Adrian........................Seth Leary
Caliban.......................Curt Klump
Trinculo A Jester.......Lindsay Flathers
Stephano A Butler........Jonathan Overby
Ariel..........................Eliza Lay
Boatswain/Ensemble......Melanie Connealy
Shipsmaster/Ensemble...Natalie Buchinsky
Fire/Ensemble............Robin Rappaport
Air/Ensemble...................Jenn Pici
Earth/Ensemble.............Dorothy Eagle
Water/Ensemble.............Erika Shumate

Like a slash of pure lightning remaking the world, this brilliant production of Shakespeare's "Tempest" is here for only two more performances leaving only lovely memories behind. Get there if you can!

What is all my fuss about? Well, take what's usually a minor detail: the villains Sebastian (Sam Jones) and Antonio (Timothy McDermott), who are first seen quipping and jesting, satirizing old windbag Gonzalo (Bruce Kaye), and later attempt to slit the throat of the sleeping King of Naples (Alice Curly). Here these are lusty louts, dangerous with a word as with a sword, and only magic intervention of a super-sprite prevents mayhem. Their scene serves to illustrate the backbiting "civilization" of Milan, where once the mighty-magicked Prospero was robbed of his dukedom. And, because these courtly intriguers here have substance, the play regains its power.

Or take the very crux and essence of the plot: Prospero, marooned a dozen years, holds these villains, helpless, glad of the fateful winds delivering them into his own vengeful mercy --- and instead, touched and shamed by an unhuman spirit's pity, decides to pardon, not to kill. Here played by Jason Beals as a deposed prince in a cape as flame-red as his anger, that sudden moment of compassion brings this sparkling play from spectacle back to human truth.

Here the affairs of these ruling aristocrats play out upon the hip-high platform of the YMCA Family Theatre Stage, while a drunken trio of servants brawl and bray down on the floor with we groundlings. Curt Klump is Caliban, the only native on what is now Prospero's isle, feeling his first floods of tasty alcohol rush him on to forsake one master for a new. Lindsay Flathers' witty Trinculo and Jonathan Overby's athletic Stephano stagger loudly along this beach screeching their blear-eyed eagerness to rule an island of their very own.

And there are the dew-eyed lovers --- the young Neapolitan prince (Benjy Schirm) and Prospero's daughter (Emily Evans) --- seeing it seems their first human beings, though truly just their first True Loves. Again, that lock-eyed moment of magic lights this entire world.

And then, there is Ariel. Eliza Lay is a shapeshifter, routinely leaping barefoot from the high stage to streak up the center aisle to the back of the house, only to reappear, languidly lurking at the edge of a scene, listening, almost unnoticed, before swirling once more into the action. Her very toes and fingers tingle with the music of her otherly interest in humans. When Prospero recalls he found her pinned for years inside a pine she trembles, recoils, withers, collapses into a heap of pain. But he has promised a reward of freedom for sprightly service rendered, and as the play progresses the strips binding her sinuous body gradually strip away, till she is free.

And that's not all! Ariel commands a chorus --- spirits? or mere illusion? You decide! --- who dance onstage to Lisa Palumbo is earth-stamping choreography in riots of Melanie Gillis' colorful costumes. Oh, and the music creeping by us on the waters! Dawson Hill & Chris Montecalvo have turned synths into what sound like rhythmic tropical marimbas and, perhaps improvising in synch with the action, add their own eloquently magic music to the whole.

And remember this name: Jon Ferreira. He has been Mercutio and Mark Antony and will be touring next spring as Bottom and Tybalt, but here he was 11:11's director, melding a mix of familiar faces with several others new to Boston, giving each its moment of magic, teasing excellence to new heights, and making "The Tempest" for all too brief a time, luminously new again.


( a k a larry stark )

"The Tempest" (1 - 9 December ONLY)
Cambridge Family YMCA Theatre, 820 Massachusetts Avenue, CAMBRIDGE, MA
1 (617)???-????

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide