The Tempest is Shakespeare’s most sublime piece, set on a charmed island. It is fey world, where spirits and sprites are as much a part of the landscape as the soil.
The story starts with a shipwreck. The passengers make it safely to shore, and in better shape than before. How can this be? Because, living on the island is Prospero (Robert May), a sorcerer who commands the elements. It is he that sets the action in motion, and he who shall soon restore order to this particular universe.
Prospero is accompanied by his lovely daughter Miranda (an engaging Lauren Plaxco) who takes pity on the sailors’ plight, and pleads with her father to spare them. Prospero commands the spirit Ariel (played with charismatic splendor by Lucy Walsh) to watch and engage with their new guests.
This leads to the party’s own conflicts and agendas, as some of them are not forthright. There is a definite comedic turn in all this, as Shakespeare allows his characters more freedom than ever before.
Everyone gets what they deserve, as Prospero entitles his guests with a grand gesture of forgiveness and reconciliation.
This production infuses no-fear Shakespeare, using current language and syntax. And there lies the rub. Although director Gloria Gifford manages to infuse a lively production with the right amount of energy and rests, the original text has a certain allure that modern interpretation lacks. The majesty of the bard is the musical quality of his words — how they play trippingly on the tongue.
Fortunately, an excellent cast, who imbue the show with their particular individuality and exuberance, rescues it.
The Tempest plays through August 24th at T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91602. For more information, call (310) 366-5505, or visit www.tix.com.