"The Tempest" is Not Simply Tempestuous!
Shakespeare in the Park is a wonderful way to enjoy a summer evening. Frequently a bit of a breeze drifts through the audience although the current production of “The Tempest” is certainly not in the least windy. Directed by Michael Jones, this production gives us all the essential elements of a Shakespearean production with some outstanding casting choices to carry the show.
“The Tempest” opens with a ship about to founder on a deserted island. Passengers include Alonso, the King of Naples and Antonio, the Duke of Milan. They are stranded with Sebastian, the King’s brother and Gonzalo the King’s counselor. Immediately they fear the Kings’ son Ferdinand has been drowned. However, the island is inhabited by the rightful Duke of Milan, Prospero and his daughter Miranda who has never seen any man before outside of her father and their monstrous servant Caliban. Ferdinand has washed ashore near their cave, and Miranda becomes transported by his appearance.
The costume design by Robert Pittenridge is excellent and the show is technically extremely well done in all aspects. The flavor of the island is achieved with coverage of stage areas using tarps that allow audience imagination to create the setting of a desolate island.
Jones cast Hal Kohlman as Prospero, a perfect choice. Kohlman’s performance is exactly what is expected of an experienced Shakespearean actor bringing a great deal of authenticity to Oklahoma audiences. Hunter Paul as Ferdinand the young male lead is perfect. Paul looks the part of an exceedingly handsome young man yet he certainly does not get by on looks alone. His performance achieves excellence. The show does start a bit awkwardly as the pacing seems out of kilter, yet with the entrance of Caliban the pacing improves and most of the actors hit their stride. The part of Caliban is superbly played by Ben Hall. Hall’s makeup is sinister yet forgiving and his professional performance matches.
Don Taylor as Trinculo, a jester and Jon Haque as Stephano, a drunken butler display superb timing in their roles. Their characterizations are very funny and when they join forces with Caliban we see a delightful level of supreme Shakespearean humor.
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