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Theatre Review: The Tempest

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, February 18, 2011

"The Tempest" opens with disaster at sea, as sailors and passengers abandon a sinking ship. In this show, the storm is created by billowing panels of fabric and jarring low notes from Arthur Gould's electric cello.

"Down with the topmast! Lower, Lower!"

But this is an uncommon shipwreck. Everyone survives, and the stranded travelers realize they're on a mysterious island, where they meet a talking creature who is half-man and half-fish, and 100 percent malevolent.

"As wicked do, as ere my mother brushed, with raven's feather, from unwholesome fen, drop on you both, a southwest blow on you, and blister you all o'er."

This exotic creature is something to behold - decked out in glitter, with sharp peaks of spiky black hair, and contact lenses that give him otherworldly eyes.

This production combines unusual costumes, thoughtfully arranged live music and dappled pools of light and darkness onstage to enhance Shakespeare's mysterious and uncommonly wide-ranging tale. It's a tale that runs the gamut from young lovers who fall for each other at first sight, to physical comedy of tipsy servants, to a nasty scheme to kill a king and seize the crown. 

This company of experienced actors and community players really does a nice job with such a challenging play. Good Shakespeare shows in these parts are as rare as hen's teeth, particularly this year, so I encourage you to catch this resourceful mounting of "The Tempest" while you can.

"The Tempest" plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through next weekend at the Nevada Theater in Nevada City.

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