Friday, April 18, 2014

Review of Suitcase Shakespeare Company's The Tempest

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Tempest. It was directed by Arne Parrott and it was written by William Shakespeare and adapted by Adam McAleavey. It was about a wizard named Prospero (William Burdin) who had a daughter named Miranda (Liz Dillard) and they lived on an island, but then the king's (Matthew Davis) son Ferdinand (Michael Medford) got shipwrecked as well and fell in love with Miranda. Also the king's drunken butler Stephano (June Marsh) and his friend who was the king's jester Trinculo (Ben Harpe), they both get drunk on the island while Caliban (McAleavey) is worshipping Stephano. And Caliban also wants a lot of alcohol and he wants them to kill Prospero and then Stephano can marry Miranda. Ariel (Sarah Hoch), not the mermaid but a cute adorable little spirit, does all of Prospero's biddings. Lil Sebastian (Marsh) and Antonio (Harpe) are trying to kill the King. All the people are on the island because Prospero made a shipwreck happen. He wants his child Miranda to be happy and safe when he dies and he also wants to take revenge on his brother and scare his brother out of his wits before he dies. I liked this show very much overall. I thought it was a funnier adaptation of The Tempest than usual. I was laughing for basically the entire time.

I liked the shipwreck scene. I thought it was very cool, and I loved the puppets that were in it. I liked the puppets because they kind of reminded me of The Muppet Show, but they still went with the story. There was just the King and Ferdinand who were not puppets. They were all moving around and about; it was like they were being tossed around. Ferdinand and the Captain tried to get it back on track, but then the ship split. They went off stage and then they screamed "We're splitting!" The lights looked like lightning and there was the sounds of a storm. And that made you feel like you were actually in the tempest.

I liked how Sebastian, the brother of the king, was turned into a dog in this adaptation. Once I saw this dog, I thought an all-pet Shakespeare would be awesome. Like Dogberry could be an actual dog. And Tybalt could be a cat. And Romeo and Juliet could both be Komodo dragons. And Bottom could be a donkey that turns into a human and everyone is terrified. I think they turned that character into a dog because it is hilarious and I am still laughing. This is the kind of dog that might try to kill you, or at least bite you, because he has giant long teeth. But he is not big and scary; he is small and still adorable. The dog talks to Antonio, but he does it in ruffs, not in Shakespearean language and iambic pentameter. He might have been ruff-ing in iambic pentameter, or iambic tetrameter, and if you go and see this show and find out what rhythm he was ruff-ing in, post it in the comments!

All the slapstick comedy in this was perfect. Especially with the drunken people. When Stephano was slapping Trinculo, he didn't slap him once or twice, or three times or four times. He slapped him over and over and over and over again, and each time Trinculo would say "Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!" and then Stephano would gesture like "Come here," and slap him on the other side. I liked when Trinculo had been slapped so hard he put his head in the log and he kept trying to get out and kept hitting his head on the inside of the log. I thought it was super duper hilarious when Ferdinand was carrying wood and he was acting like it was such a big deal, and Miranda came and said, "Oh, let me help you" and he was like, "Oh, no! It is too heavy!" And then she picked them up with ease and walked all the way over.

I thought that Ferdinand and Miranda's relationship was so funny because usually Ferdinand is a strapping young man, but in this version he was sort of a nerd. I don't have anything against nerds. I am a nerd myself. It was so funny because usually he is a handsome strong man and Miranda is like "Aaaaah!" But even when he was a nerd and wore roundish glasses she still went "Aaaaah!" She has never seen a young man in her life, so she thinks he is still the most handsome amazing awesome thing. You want them to get together for the entire play because you see they would be a perfect match. I liked Miranda because she was so innocent and so adorable. Miranda was island-schooled, which means she was basically home-schooled. It seemed like she was strong and not completely smart, but still not dumb. She was smart enough to teach Caliban how to speak and how to chop wood and stuff like that.

I loved Caliban and I also loved his costume. Caliban had the awesomest freakin' mask in the world. It was so creepy but awesome. My favorite part of all was when he first came out and you were like, "O my gosh! He's going to eat my feet!" He didn't really have eyes, he just had the whites and not the pupils or anything like that. That made you think that he was even creepier. When you first meet Trinculo he is walking and he sees a gaberdine, well he doesn't know what it is at first but Caliban tells him. That shows you how stupid drunk Trinculo is. But it tells you that they are both basically at the same level of smartness or drunkness. Then Trinculo opens up the gaberdine and sees what Caliban is, but he doesn't get upset because Caliban is frozen in motion. I thought that that was one of the most hilarious things in the whole wide world.

Ariel and Prospero I think could have been amazing friends if Prospero basically throughout the entire play hadn't acted like Ariel was really stupid. It could have been good because Ariel wanted to be loved and loved her master so much, but he never really returned that love until the very end. He had been nice to her for once and then she died. Dying is how somebody releases a spirit in this case. Prospero ends up kind of being happy when he breaks his wand because then he can give up. He doesn't have to make tempests any more. He can just rest.

People who would like this show are people who like scary Caliban masks, drunken butlers, and Ferdi-nerds! I think people should definitely go and see this show. It is fuh-larious, creepy, and awesome. Kids would enjoy this as well as adults. This is the first time I have seen The Tempest on stage and I was happy that it was a great adaptation.

Photos: Micah Bayer of Wreckling Press

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