May 28, 2012

The Tempest - Hartford Stage

So much to love!

A lazy Memorial Day weekend, without a lot on the agenda. So as a friend and I lamented our single (meaning, no families, no picnics) state on Facebook, we realized we could sneak in a visit downtown - and holiday tickets were 50% off!  We were so there!

Forst off, I've already seen The Tempest at Hartford Stage - the last time they put it on, circa 1984/85 season. Yeah, I am that old.  I must have been a way cooler 24 year old than I remembered - although a few years out of college (where I sucked up every Shakespeare course my engineering college offered), with a good (for the time) salary and a pile of credit, I was flush. Anyway, I am sure I loved that version (I made a point of seeing every Mark Lamos directed Shakespeare play that I could), but I think I loved this one more.

In no particular order, I loved:
  • Ariel played by Shirine Babb with a chorus, I loved the concept of Ariel being multiple sprites. It would have been pretty  cool (conceptually) to have the three actors portraying Ariels movement chorus shared the speaking roles, although Shirine was outstanding throughout.
  • The stage floor and costumes, many of which were woven with the text of the play)
  •  The wall of books, artfully designed to permit the Ariel chorus to climb and pose.
  • Caliban. Amazing performance by Ben Cole, and amazing choices in terms of how to play him by the director
  • The stage turntable, used sparingly but effectively, all night, but especially during...
  •  The opening scene, where a woman on stage in a long-trained dress transformed into the Figurehead of the ship that is wrecked in a storm. I just fell in love from the start.
  • Not a huge fan of Prospero's revels (ballet and aerial dancing) in general but it was a beautiful interlude and I did love the rainbow arc. 
The actors were great, the costuming was great - hard to trump the fantastical elements of the play but they supported it fully and never detracted. Even Trinculo and Stephano (Shakespeare's obligatory comic relief) were wonderful. 

Live theater, I miss you. It was really not that pricey to see a play, there are bargains to be had, I need to cultivate a few theater going friends.

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