Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Sam Mendes
Starring Christian Camargo, Stephen Dillane, Alvin Epstein, Ron Cephas Jones, Juliet Rylance, Thomas Sadoski
Performances through March 13, 2010
BAM Harvey Theater 651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn
Generally considered Shakespeare’s leave-taking of the theater, The Tempest is also one of his most affecting late romances because of the gentleness of the reconciliations that occur following several violent, volatile collisions earlier in the play.
The magician Prospero, seen as Shakespeare’s self-portrait, controls everything about his life on the island where he and daughter Miranda have lived for a dozen years, with the sprite Ariel and slave Caliban doing his bidding. So when he has the chance to reencounter the men responsible for his banishment from Milan where he was Duke, Prospero ensures that a storm brings them on the island, dazzling them with sleight-of-hand until finally and forgivingly announcing that they will return to civilization.
The acting is uneven. Christian Carmago does acceptable work as Ariel, but he’s up against Mendes’ showy direction: when the sprite appears with an enormous pair of wings in one scene, one wonders when (and why) Ariel has become Icarus. Julia Rylance, as Miranda, mimics Dillane, giving a solid but unexciting portrayal, while Ron Cephas Jones makes a good, scary—and sympathetic—Caliban. As for the comic relief, Thomas Sadoski (who is the best of the repertory company in both this and As You Like It) continues to impress as the clownish drunk Stefano, while Anthony O’Donnell’s Trinculo is just broad enough in a part that calls for overacting.
Caliban describes Prospero’s isle as “full of noises, sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.” In Mendes’ Tempest, the island is certainly enchanted but only intermittently delightful.
originally posted on timessquare.com