The Colorado Shakespeare Festival began its 2014 summer season with a classic take on “The Tempest.” This tale of shipwrecked men confronted with the sins of their past features betrayal, murder, drunken revelry and romance. What’s not to love? Directed by Geoffrey Kent, this rendition of Shakespeare’s marooned sorcerer and his plans for revenge boasts refreshingly original twists and solid talent.
A Tale of Forgiveness
The audience is treated to scenes both serious and comical in this play, which is one of Shakespeare’s more lighthearted stories. Though it begins with the titular tempest, this play is less about vengeance than the winding path to forgiveness. In the first act, Prospero, the powerful sorcerer and ruler of the island he and his daughter were forced to call home for twelve years, summons a storm to bring his enemies from a passing ship to his island. From there, Prospero (Peter Simon Hilton) generally torments the shipwrecked groups with the help of his captured spirit, Ariel. Seeing that his daughter will be marrying the prince, he eventually forgives them and decides to leave the island with them at the conclusion of the play.
A Twist on Classic Characters
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival productions always have fun surprises in store for theater fans. In this version, Ariel is portrayed as more spirit-like than in other renditions. Vanessa Morosco, decked out in an ethereal tunic, portrays the trickster spirit with acrobatic aerial dance. Delivering the difficult Shakespearean dialogue with flare and poise, even while upside down in some cases, Morosco steals the show. The director uses the aerial dance fabric to symbolize Ariel’s tether to Prospero, and she only releases her sashes when Prospero frees the spirit at the end of the play.
Joshua Archer as a spiny, dragon-tailed Caliban is also enchanting in a brutish way, lending to the magic of the show. Caliban’s hilarious interactions with the jester, Trinculo (Rodney Lizcano), and the butler, Stephano (Sammie Joe Kinnett), dominate the middle of the play. All three loutish drunks provided a nice comedic balance to the show. At one point, they even had the audience singing along with them.
A Memorably Romantic Set
Built high and towering in Colorado’s night sky was the impressive set piece that represented Prospero’s island. This is where innocent Miranda (Kyra Lindsay) and handsome Ferdinand (Benjamin Bonenfant) fall in love, and where the spirits torment Prospero’s enemies until good-hearted Gonzalo’s grief convinces Prospero to forgive them. Magical puppetry, nature spirits, a spell-binding flute and a dragon-like Caliban all conspire in this portrayal of “The Tempest” to transport the audience to that lonely island Shakespeare envisioned for his story. The Colorado Shakespeare Festival brings Prospero’s magic to life.
“The Tempest” opened on June 7 and plays through August 10 at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Tickets are still available, so come and see the show for yourself if you’re in the area.
Image courtesy of Colorado Shakespeare Festival