Jacob Endris, Jon Huffman, & Megan Massie in The Tempest.
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Matt Wallace
Review by Rachel White
Entire contents are copyright © 2015 by Rachel White, all rights reserved.
The 2015 Summer Season of Kentucky Shakespeare Festival in Central Park opens with a fresh staging of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It is as magical as last year’s opener, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but more contemplative. As in Midsummer there are lovers, and spirits, but we also get to experience the natural beauty and danger of the elements. It’s a more melancholy play, and embodies all of the strangeness of Shakespeare’s imagination. Matt Wallace takes a classic approach to the piece, remaining true to it by letting it speak for itself. Wallace uses enough theatrical elements to give beauty to the production, but doesn’t overwhelm it, contrasting a sparse stage with a few vibrant costume and technical choices, and solid acting.
Jon Huffman leads the cast as Prospero, the marooned magician, whose studies in philosophy have allowed his brother to usurp his thrown and banish him to a desert island. Huffman’s presence commands attention from the audience, and I could easily imagine him as a fallen king. Huffman moves the character deftly from angry master to compassionate and loving father and lord. These dueling sides of his personality are what allow his generosity at the end to make sense. Prospero’s daughter Miranda is played by Megan Massie, who injects the character with a winning sense of wonder that lends humor and tenderness to her relationship with the young Ferdinand (Jacob Endris).
Among the spirits, Dathan Hooper plays the deformed Caliban with a voice that is at times a guttural snarl and at other times lyrical. He is more tragic than he is nasty, and it is sometimes difficult to watch Prospero treat him cruelly. ZFX provides the flying effects for Arial (Sarah Jo Provost) and her group of water spirits. Provost is graceful in the air, and the affects feel light, and nearly effortless. Their interaction with the drunken Stephano (Gregory Maupin) and the foolish Trinculo (Zachary Burrell0, servants to Alonzo (Tom Luce) are comic highlights of the play and the production.
Costume designer, Donna Lawrence-Downs chooses a cool palate for the more supernatural characters from the icy blue nymphs to the sleek and silvery skulking Caliban and tones it down for the others. The production includes a spectacular chorus of sea nymphs, which is really stunning to hear and watch.
June 3-August 9, 2015
8:00PM Nightly Free Show, 7:15 pre-show
Kentucky Shakespeare Festival
In Central Park
Rachel White received her MFA in playwriting from the New School for Drama, and her BA in English and Dramatic from Centre College. Her plays have been produced in New York at The New School, the Midtown International Theatre Festival and the American Globe Theater, in Los Angeles at Moving Arts Productions and the Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA. In Louisville, she has had productions at the Slant Culture Theatre Festival, the Tim Faulkner Gallery, and Finnigan Productions. She is a recipient of the Litwin Foundation Fellowship in Playwriting, and was recently a semi-finalist in the Labute New Theater Festival. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, and the Playwrights Gallery in New York.