Jul. 04, 2012 - Issue #872: The Beer Issue
Sat and Sun matinees (2 pm except Jul 8)
Heritage Amphitheatre, Hawrelak Park, $17 – $25, $40 festival pass
Oh what a tangled web we weave when ... wait, wrong play. But regardless of the script, ye good ol’ Bard sure liked his tangled webs, especially when it comes to comedies. In The Tempest, this year’s comedic offering at the Freewill Shakespeare Festival, he interjects magic into the turmoil, engineering quite a silly snare for his characters, who remain unaware.
The only person who has any control of the situation is Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, who was banished from his dukedom for dipping into the dark arts. Twelve years later Prospero gets his chance for revenge, when his brother, Antonio, who had him exiled, happens to be sailing by the mysterious island where Prospero long ago found refuge. Whipping up a storm with the help of his spritely servant, Ariel—a spirit of the air—he shipwrecks his brother and the rest of the crew.
The magical elements make this script a challenge to bring to the stage but director John Kirkpatrick and his team do a fantastical job of manipulating light, smoke and sound to enact the spells that hold the story together. The shipwreck itself is particularly well executed, with Ariel (Amber Borotsik) at the helm casting the ship to-and-fro on a sea of fog.
The mystical atmosphere is held together by Matthew Skopyk’s impressive sound design. Composing haunting songs for the spirits of the island to sing, they echo in the amphitheatre, creating a tingling sense of the supernatural.
Though this production handles the difficulties of a magic-based play with whimsy, compared to the heft and emotional compass of the rest of Shakespeare’s work, it feels like Bill phoned this one in. (Yeah, that’s right. I just called out Shakespeare). There’s not a lot of freewill in this play, with Prospero playing puppet master, and with a sorcerer moving his pawns about, the outcome seems pre-ordained, which makes the whole event feel somewhat tedious.
And while Troy O’Donnell and Kevin Corey do manage to loosen up the crowd and get them chuckling as the jester and jester’s butler respectively, this fanciful little play never really sweeps up the crowd in it’s own tempest of laughter or emotion. It sails along much cute, but calmer seas. vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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