THEATER REVIEW: “The Tempest” @ Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Roseann Cane
Using Shakespeare & Company’s new outdoor Roman Garden Theatre, which is subjected to the vagaries of weather, director Allyn Burrows has cleverly chosen to place The Tempest on an island off Nova Scotia in the 1890s. During that time, Nova Scotia gained international recognition as a leader in ship building, and, as in the rest of the Western world, saw the economic turmoil as well as the constant invention that accompanied the Industrial Revolution.
“Envy, betrayal, and exile are transformed into self-exploration, forgiveness, and wonder in this towering classic,” writes Burrows. “When told simply and eloquently by nine actors in the intimate outdoor setting at sunset, this story can be strikingly powerful.” While it’s tempting to dismiss the proud director’s superlative-laden declaration as hyperbole, don’t. This production of The Tempest is a knockout.
Prospero (Nigel Gore), the ousted Duke of Milan, now a sorcerer, lives on a remote island with his daughter Miranda (Ella Loudon), who has been on the island so long that she has never seen another man. Prospero creates a storm that appears to shipwreck a vessel, forcing its inhabitants to land on the island. Among the inhabitants are Prospero’s brother, Antonio (Mark Zeisler), who had usurped Prospero’s position in Milan; Antonio’s conspirator, King Alonso of Naples (Josh Aaron McCabe); Alonso’s brother, Sebastian (Thomas Brazzle); Alonso’s son, Ferdinand (Deaon Griffin-Pressley); Trinculo (Bella Merlin), a jester on the ship; and Trinculo’s drinking buddy, Stephano (Josh Aaron McCabe).