Tempest lighter, brighter
By COLIN MACLEAN
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
The three pull some real laughs from Shakespeare's
drunken dimwits, using expressive masks and a good deal of well-choreographed
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.