Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Tempest"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark

"The Tempest"

by William Shakespeare
Directed by David Frieze

Set Design/Technical Direction by Nat Twarog
Assistant Technical Director Jay Watt
Costume Design by Meg Rosenburg
Master Seamstress Holly Laird
Lighting Design by Dylan Consla
Assistant Lighting Director Meg Rosenburg
Sound Design by Hanna Kuznetsov
Properties Mistress Shannon Greer
Hair & Makeup Design by Kelly Rockwell
Dramaturg Sabrina Neuman
Producer Shannon Greer
Assistant Stage Manager Naomi Stein
Stage Manager Stephen York

Prospero..............Mike Haddad
Miranda...........Anna Roussanova
Antonio...............Holly Laird
Sebastian.........Deidre LaBounty
Ferdinand.........Anthony Rindone
Gonzalo............Sarah McDougal
Caliban............Kellas Cameron
Ariel...............Meg Rosenburg
Trinculo........Sharon Gouchenoun
Stephano..........Jennifer Benoit
Alonso...............Bonnie Krenz
Ceres..............Marilyn Edobor
Juno................Tana Waterman
Boatswain...........Paul Boudreau
Marilyn Edobor, Tana Waterman, Paul Boudreau

"The Tempest" was probably Shakespeare's last play, and so a lot of weight through the ages has been placed on lines that sound like a farewell to the stage. But The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble and their Director David Frieze have found the fun in this script.

The Ensemble are not polished professionals --- some of the cast have never been on a stage before, and there is a lot of cross-gender casting here --- but the night I was there a sparse audience full of MIT number-crunchers got almost all the show's subtleties and broadities. (And if that isn't a word it ought to be!)

Here the cast assembles as informal actors until Mike Haddad, tall and stern in presence and voice, waves Prospero's wand and plunges everyone into a tempest of whirling lights and reeling, shouting sailors and terrified passengers. They are all people from Prospero's past --- a friend, an enemy brother, a king who conspired him out of his dukedom --- all blown to this isle to pay for their past deeds. The magic of Prospero's books will see to that.

But Prospero has a daughter, and the conniving King of Naples (Bonnie Krenz) a handsome son (Anthony Rindone). Anna Roussanova's Miranda has a face all wonder and curiosity, and so, of course...

On this isle Prospero's mere word controls everything, and he has a magic henchman: Meg Rosenburg is the gauzy spirit Ariel flitting about Nat Twarog's set to make miracles, and commanding a set of sprites in feather-masks (Marilyn Edobor, Tana Waterman, Paul Boudreau) who fright and torment the visitors.

His other servant is Caliban (Kellas Cameron), a sullen, surly, misshapen islander who, egged on by his first taste of sherry, conspires with a pair of drunken servants (Sharon Gouchenoun and Jennifer Benoit) to kill Prospero and rule the island as their own. But their cowardly bravado is all dumb-show, and they are no match for Ariel.

This isn't the best Shakespeare production in Boston right now --- that's the A.S.P.'s "Hamlet"! --- it's a low-budget student production put on by a bunch of enthusiastic theatrical amateurs. But, remember, the word "amateur" derives very meaningfully from the word "lover" and, sometimes, that's enough.

( a k a larry stark )

"The Tempest" (26 October - 4 November)
Little Kresge Theatre, MIT, Massachusetts Avenue, CAMBRIDGE MA
1 (???)???-????

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