These past two weeks (Mar. 10-13 & 17-19) the Elmhurst College Theater Department put on a production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” a story of love, revenge, and wizardry, directed by theatre professor Janice Pohl.
For those who do not know the story, it takes place on a magical island where Prospero — or in this case, Prospera — the Duke of Milan and her daughter have been exiled by the duke’s scheming brother (in this production, her sister).
A series of fortunate events enable the duke to use her magical powers to create a tempest that casts the passengers and crew of a passing ship onto the island.
With the aid of a magical sprite, Ariel, the duke causes the castaways to go through a series of strange and comedic events in an attempt to redeem herself and her daughter, snagging the girl a husband in the process.
If you think this sounds complicated, it is.
I had read the play in high school, so I knew exactly what was going on, but many of the people I was with had trouble understanding the plot.
This was by no means the fault of the Theater Department; Shakespeare is just difficult to understand.
I suggest that anyone who wishes to see this play, or any other Shakespearean play, read a synopsis of the play before they go and see it.
You can find them on sites such as Sparknotes, and even Wikipedia has some fair plot summaries.
Most importantly, make sure to know the character names as the constant change in characters could also lead to some confusion, thus leading to a less enjoyable experience while watching this classic Shakespearean piece.
That being said, the Theater Department put on an excellent production of “The Tempest”.
The scenery, designed by Professor Richard Arnold Jr., made excellent use of the somewhat limited space in the Mill Theater; and the costumes, designed by Grace Bellino, fit the characters very well.
All of the actors performed very well; however, the performance of Isabella Yanke, who played Ariel, especially stood out.
Yanke said her lines clearly and put a lot of emotion and feeling into them.
Her petite frame fit the image of a sprite perfectly. She certainly looked and acted the part as she danced and sang around on the stage.
The only part of the play that needed some work was the opening scene, which takes place aboard the ship during the tempest.
The thunder and other sound effects drowned out most of the actors’ words, making it difficult to understand what was going on.
All that said, I enjoyed the Theater Department’s production of “The Tempest,” and highly recommend that readers of Shakespeare’s works go see some of their other productions.
The next play will be “Kate and Sam Are Not Breaking Up,” which will run April 21-24 and April 28-30. Tickets cost $5, a small price to pay for good acting.