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The Tempest

a Play
by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : Georgia Shakespeare [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Conant Performing Arts Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 729

SHOWING : October 07, 2003 - November 02, 2003



Directed by Richard Garner

This fantastical tale of mystical spirits and human frailities, nobles and clowns, launches us on a voyage navigated by magical forces and the depths of emotion. The Tempest explores the rebirth of spirit, the search for purpose, and the need for forgiveness.

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by Dedalus
Monday, November 10, 2003
One of the joys of revisiting Shakespeare's plays over and over again is finding those moments of perfection -- combinations of words and acting and theatricality that raise emotions not experienced in prior productions. I have seen four professional and a handful of Community Theatre productions of "The Tempest," and it remains one of my favorites in the canon. In the GSF's recently-closed production, such a "moment of perfection" came when Ariel (the wonderful Kelly O'Neal) asked Prospera (the equally-wonderful Janice Akers), "Do you love me?" Those four simple words perfectly captured this Ariel's loneliness, her sense of duty, her insecurities, her own love for Prospera -- it was absolutely right and absolutely enlightening, and, to be frank, it was the most beautiful moment of the show and of GSF's 2003 season.

That being said, I did have a few quibbles about this production as a whole. It started off with a grandly stylized storm, then went immediately into a sequence of Prospera and Miranda declaiming to the audience. It was exposition, but it was given with grand gestures, and with grand emotions, and I didn't believe it for an instant. But, a strange thing happened: soon, the characters stopped talking to us like actors and started to talking to each other as characters. I was almost immediately drawn back into their story. It was a sharp division which returned anytime anyone had a soliloquy. To put it bluntly, when the characters were relating to each other as human beings, all was wonderful and good, but when they talked to us, they became stylized declaimers. While this may have been an intentional directorial flourish, I found it distracting.

Another quibble was a slight disconnect in the sense of forgiveness Prospera displays in the latter scenes of the play. A "moment of perfection" in the Canada Stratford production of a couple years ago came with a very vivid change in attitude from vengeance to forgiveness on the part of Prospero. I was gratified when Ms. Akers chose the same moment and displayed the same shift in attitude. The problem was, her later scenes with her "enemies" undercut that moment -- she seemed spiteful and snide and not-at-all forgiving. Of course, valid arguments can be made for such attitudes -- in this case, though, they seemed to run counter to the choices Ms. Akers made at that "moment of change."

As to the much-publicized cross-gender casting, it worked very well. The sexual subtext to the Antonia/Sebastian conspiracy was a definite plus, and the new Mother/Daughter context of the Prospera/Miranda story was opportunity for deeper emotions, and some moments of humor I'd never seen before. I also enjoyed the comic sub-plot involving Chris Ensweiler, Tim McDonough, and Isma'il ibn Conner.

In the final analysis, these quibbles I had, though they seem major in the way I dwelled on them here, were, in fact, minor. This was one of the better "Tempests" I've seen, and, I hope you all had the opportunity to experience it. It was such stuff as dreams are made on ....

-- Brad Rudy (

adult theater strikes again
by Vmurphy
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Thanks to the Shakespeare Festival for doing a production that does not condescend to the audience.Although this company puts the best actors in the southeast on stage year after year the style of their productions,as with much of classical theater around here,tend toward the pandering or over conceptualizing,as much of their recent summer work did.
The Tempest they did 6 years ago was a kitchy mess.In this production it is provocative to see so many roles played by women, the casting of playing Propero as a women is almost atradtion now ( I saw a underrealized version with Vannessa Redgrave playing Prospero at the New Globe in London 2 years ago).The company understood the story and with actors as consistently great as Jan Akers and Chris Einsweiler guiding us it was one of the better Shakespears in a while. I did agree with Curt inthe CL that we should abondon producing Shakespeare for year and go after the rich other literature of the period.Of couse i SAY that and at this moment i'm enjoying producing MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM.........
(we are such stuff as dreams are made on)
ps- never miss a jon lugwig show-the one true genious in town.... [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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