Theatre Review: “The Tempest”
A grotesque monster, a mystical sorcerer, magical spirits, a beautiful ingenue, a king, a duke and two bumbling drunken servants all come together on one little island in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” James Alexander Bond directs the thirteen member cast in another impressive performance from Richmond Shakespeare.
Prospero, played by Charley Raintree, a former Duke of Milan, and his daughter Miranda, played by Isabelle Andrews, are stranded on an island after being overthrown by Prospero’s jealous brother Antonio, played by Axle Burtness, and assisted by Alonso, the King of Naples played by Barry Pruitt. Since his exile, Prospero has taken over the island after the death of the witch Sycorax and forced her son, the deformed monster Caliban played by Jeremy Gershman, to operate as his slave.
Prospero, wishing to return home and reclaim his former glory, sees an opportunity when Antonio and Alonso’s ship passes by the island returning from a wedding. He implores a spirit called Ariel, played by John Mincks, to conjure up a storm that causes the passing ship to wreck on the island but for the passengers to suffer no injuries. Prospero eventually spots Prince Ferdinand, played by Daniel Kunkel and son of King Alonso, and makes a plan for Miranda and Ferdinand to wed so he may again become part of the nobility. Caliban has grown to hate Prospero and vows to derail his plans at any cost, unwisely employing the highly intoxicated servants Stephano and Trinculo, played by David Janosik and James Murphy, to aide him in murdering Prospero.
This is a highly entertaining production from beginning to end, with the smaller roles really stealing the show. Janosik and Murphy are fantastic as the moronic servants providing much of the comic relief and making use of their impressive physical-comedy prowess. Gershman is beyond creepy as the island monster Caliban, fully transforming into and committing to his character. The talented John Mincks ricochets around the stage hardly ever keeping still as the spritely Ariel and Kunkel and Andrews give strong performances as the young Prince and his new bride, showing great promise for future productions.
The set while impressive in size, height and construction, is a bit too dark and does not really evoke a tropical island feel. I would have preferred it to be lighter and sunnier to match the airiness of the costumes in the production. I find the quality of the costumes to be quite disparate between the nobles and the magical characters. The nobles’ costumes are über cool, well tailored and crisp with a Victorian feel and a nice steampunk edge to them; while the magical characters are running around in inexpensive pastel dresses and tights that looked almost juvenile in comparison.
“The Tempest” is playing through March 30th at the McVey Theatre at St. Catherines.
www.richmondshakespeare.com for information
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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