Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Tempest

Every summer there’s Shakespeare in the park, the amphitheater, or some other venue: bugs, picnic baskets, collapsible lawn chairs, and a play.

But, unadventurous as it may seem, I prefer Shakespeare indoors. Today we saw The Tempest at The Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota - a beautiful university town on the Mississippi - a stunning production (indoors), with a minimalist but very effective set with revolving platforms, with the Spirits doing the grunt work of turning the platforms between scenes. Ariel (Tarah Flanagan) perched acrobatically on a metal tower/tomato cage/jungle gym, striking in her absurd punky blond wig and bodysuit/leotard (she had no breaks: she was there at the beginning of the intermission and again when we came back). The spirits wore the same body suits and climbed, cavorted, and sang. Caliban (Christopher Gerson), who gave a fantastic performance, raged, growled, snorted like a pig, crawled, jumped, and somehow flexed his shoulder blades so they looked like humps. Were there some kind of falsies attached to his shoulder blades? We couldn’t tell for sure. In the second act this looked more normal, and we began to think he was just REALLY WELL BUILT (he was extremely muscular, and maybe he can point up his shoulder blades like that.). The goddesses were enchanting. In beautiful white gowns with long trains, they climbed the jungle gym, sang, one played the flute, and their gowns wafted down to the ground. It was magical, dreamy, and gorgeous. The romance between Miranda (Nicole Rodenburg) and Ferdinand (Nick Demeris) was charming and comical, with Miranda proposing marriage and then shaking hands, naive and thrilled at discovering "the brave new world" of men. Prospero (Jonathan Gillard Daly), is serious, majestic, and not overdone, the perfect island ruler, sorceror, stern father, and friend of the spirits.

A very hard-working, consistent, strong Shakespeare company.

Afterwards I bought Will by Christopher Rush (a novel). I have to support the Shakespeare industry: last time it was Will in the World (a biography) - much speculation - everybody loves it except me.

The painting above is The Tempest by James Henry Nixon.

A perfect day! Windy, sunny, and a picnic by a blue lake.

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