An excellent cast brings alive the magic of Shakespeare 400 years after the playwright's death.
Thunder cracks and the sound of rain roars over a stage cast in deep blue and purple lights. A group of men leaps into action, tossing ropes and shouting commands to preserve their sinking ship. Just like that, you’re dropped into The Tempest.
It’s the perfect show to close Madison Theatre Guild’s 70th season and to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death; The Tempest is widely considered to be the Bard’s last play. It runs through May 14 at the Bartell Theatre
In this comic romance, directed by Erin Baal, sorcerer Prospero and his daughter, Miranda, reside on a remote island, as they have for more than a decade, ever since Prospero’s brother Antonio usurped his title as Duke of Milan. When Prospero finds a ship nearby that bears his brother and other enemies —including the King of Naples — he calls on his sprightly spirit Ariel to destroy the ship in a storm.
All men on the ship safely wash up onto shore, and different groups embark on comedic adventures.
In publicity for the show, Madison Theatre Guild’s president Jim Chiolino reassures Shakespeare-wary audiences that the show is accessible and runs only two hours. And he’s right: From the first flash of lightning, the action takes off and doesn’t slow down until Prospero’s final somber soliloquy, elegantly delivered by Sam White.
White is excellent as Prospero, exuding wisdom and anger, and delivering entertaining scenes with his daughter Miranda (Michael Rebekah Fleischman), who is hilarious as a boy-crazy teenager, delighted to find the shipwrecked men and tired of her father’s long-winded tales.
All the actors in this production — from Mikhael Farah’s conniving Antonio to Sean Langenecker’s Caliban and Isaac Lind’s feline Ariel — make their characters their own, turning this aged play into a modern comedy, filled with magic, conspiracy and love.