The Tempest

Tempest lighter, brighter
Express Writer

This Tempest is Shakespeare lite.

Coming in briskly at a little over 90 minutes with no intermission, Scott Sharplin's full-tilt production tends to slight the Bard's poetry and darker metaphysics to emphasize the humour - not a bad approach, I suppose, for summer entertainment.

Set in the echoey black box of the Timms Centre's second space with minimal costumes and sets, the production relies on the talents of four actors to play all of the characters.

Fortunately, the quartet seem completely at home in the language, are well rehearsed and able to switch from regal duke to comic buffoon in the twinkle of an eye.

Michael Murdock is a most winning wizard as Prospero, his resonant voice and commanding manner dominating the production.

Dion Johnson, cementing the promise he displayed in Six Degrees of Separation in the same theatre earlier this year, fluidly slips from one character to another, giving each a bit of his own spin.

Tara Hughes shows range playing Prospero's innocent daughter as well as several other characters including the preening Stephano, an addled dolt.

Michael Charrois is as light as the spirit Ariel as he is comically blockheaded as Trinculo.

The three pull some real laughs from Shakespeare's drunken dimwits, using expressive masks and a good deal of well-choreographed physical humor.

Sharplin's modest but theatrical production, in fact, is highly physical and quite ingenious in its use of the sparse set and few props.

If sometimes it seems to sacrifice the gravity and atmosphere of one of the aging Bard's most heartfelt and philosophical works, there is always the admirable Murdock to provide its beating heart.