Watching a Shakespearean play often leaves the audience member vexed unless he/she knows the plot fairly well, and for some of his plays, the plot is fairly well-known. The Tempest, however, isn’t one of his more read or more discussed plays, leaving a production of it to fill in the gaps on its own. Georgia Shakespeare’s solid, enjoyable production carries the weight well.
Sharon Ott, making her Georgia Shakespeare directorial debut, has crafted a beautiful and unique adaptation of the classic about a sorceress seeking revenge after being banished for political purposes. Her direction and staging, along with Ivan Pulinkala’s choreography, create visually stunning scenes, especially during the storm that starts the play. Likewise, the fairies move mysteriously and effortlessly, adding to the mystique of Leslie Taylor’s costumes. Neal A. Ghant, also should be commended for his movement as Caliban, Prospera’s slave.
One of the unique features of this production is turning the role of Prospero into a female as Prospera. Carolyn Cook displays the perfect range of emotions to make this switch seem as it were always a female role. Delivering a strong performance, she carefully balances the emotional need for revenge with the motherly instinct of wanting a better life for her daughter.
Both Casey Hoekstra as Ferdinand and Chris Kayser as Ariel steal the show. Hoekstra brings a stage presence and charm that, at times, overshadowed others on stage with him. Similarly, Kayser’s Ariel brings a playful youthfulness to the stage that overpowers the lead’s own performance.
Despite the wonderful accomplishments of the production, some aspects of the show didn’t work well. In the opening scene, the sound effects were much louder than the actors on stage, making it hard to hear and understand the exposition that was being set up. Speaking the Elizabethan language didn’t become clearer during other scenes. The actors spoke quickly and were not enunciating well at times.
Overall, this production of The Tempest deserves credit for its staging, direction and acting performances as it showcases the talents of each person involved. This romantic tale of revenge, while contemporary, stays true to its Shakespearean elements as it gives its modern audience a captivating, stunning production.
– Kenny Norton