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Monday, May 13, 2013

Playful Tempest at Walden Theatre: Fun Onstage Translates to Fun for the Audience




The Tempest

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Julane Havens


A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2013 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.


In Julane Havens’ director’s notes for the current production of The Tempest at Walden Theater, she calls attention to the elements of magic and the spirit of play within the piece. As these are young actors, this appropriate and accessible approach to Shakespeare’s romance provides an end product that was enjoyable because these young actors were, indeed, having fun.

The production is fuelled by actors having a ball. Whether it’s the flashing lights and arms flailing about in pantomime resembling the shipwreck or the train of spirits in tie-dyed pastels that play and prance behind Ariel every which way, Haven’s cast deserves all the credit for this kid-friendly production. Extra applause goes toward the copious musical talent this cast has as well. Scenes are accented with simple chimes, guitar riffs and cello melodies to set the mood for storms, falling in love and even the ramblings of a drunk butler and his companion. 

These young actors give every last bit of boundless energy they have to make magic happen. As Prospero, Chris Lockhart is a dominant presence with staff in hand and cape on shoulders. He displays the utmost confidence as the sorcerer and duke even in moments where he might have tripped over a line or two. His daughter, Miranda, is played by Jamie Coffey. In the throes of love-at-first-sight with Ferdinand, played by Marty Chester, Coffey brings authentic innocence to the part. Chester and Lockhart share moments of dry humor as Ferdinand tries to abide by and please his future father-in-law. Ariel is played by Hank Paradis, who strums his guitar and does the bidding of Prospero. Paradis provides an energetic performance that channels the giddiness of one of Peter Pan's lost boys with a dash of Ziggy Stardust style. Chandler Dalton and Rebecca Willenbrink are a couple of clowns, in every meaning of the word. With pig tails and colorful garb, these two provide a boost of energy toward the end of the first act. As two drunken shipwreck survivors, these two young ladies tumble and stumble with great comedic timing. Brooke Morrison plays the deformed slave, Caliban. Morrison squats, stretches and lingers about in her leafy outfit with defiance and charisma that match a certain hobbit from a familiar trilogy about a ring. From the first moment she slithers on stage, Morrison demands all attention while she is on stage and certainly receives it.

This production is strong testament to the playfulness of The Tempest. With all the talents and creative staging, there are some minor hiccups here and there concerning pacing and delivery, which is to be expected on opening night. Regardless, this is a production that sets out to be playful, and it certainly accomplishes this goal.

The Tempest
May 9-19
Running in repertory with The Liar and Two Gentlemen of Verona in Walden's annual Young American Shakespeare Festival

Nancy Niles Sexton Stage at Walden Theatre
1125 Payne Street
Louisville, KY 40205
502-589-0084


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