Theater review: Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park’s ‘The Tempest’ | NewsOK.com

Below you’ll find the Oklahoman‘s review of Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park’s the Tempest, which runs Thursday-Saturday the first three weekends of July, 2012 at the Myriad Gardens Water Stage in Downtown Oklahoma City.

I am a bit biased as a cast member, but hope you can make this part of your summer fun.

Theater review: Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park’s ‘The Tempest’ | NewsOK.com.

 

BY JOHN BRANDENBURG For The Oklahoman | Published: July 8, 2012

A good blend of magic, raucous humor, grudging mercy and youthful romance triumphant over potential tragedy, was served up in “The Tempest” by Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park.

Loud storm sounds, bells, and men with ropes, controlled by a magician with his stave from above, suggested a shipwreck on the castle-like stage, covered with material similar to that of sails or parachutes.

But it was veteran cast members, and Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park newcomer Rebecca Ashton, more than special effects, which made the Bard’s late masterpiece come to life Thursday at Myriad Gardens Water Stage, 301 W Reno.

Hal Kohlman brought a powerful presence, heavy-handed but gruffly appealing, to Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, exiled to the island, where he uses magic to strand his enemies’ on its shore.

Carrying out his bidding with the right air of merry, mischievous enjoyment of the confusion being caused was a shaven-headed David Mays as Ariel, wearing body paint, see-through pants and a jazzy sash.

Supplying a crudely humorous contrast to Mays as “the dainty spirit of the winds” was Ben Hall as Caliban, a “brutish half man/half beast,” who wants to take back “his” island from Prospero.

Wading out of the dark waters surrounding the stage, like the title character in the movie the “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” Hall seemed to revel in the raunchy role, and soon made it his own.

This was especially true after he encountered Don Taylor as Trinculo, a drunken jester, and Jon Haque as Stephano, a servant who makes Caliban his servant by giving him “moon-liquor.”

Together, these three were a comic force to reckon with, threatening to drown over aspects of the play, like the storm which set it in motion, as they joined in Caliban’s wacky plan to whack Prospero.

But if these “downstairs” types nearly stole the show, like creatures from our unconscious, it was the aristocratic, “upstairs” cast members who in some ways made the most lasting impression.

Ashton was a fetching ingenue as the “homeschooled,” and then some, Miranda, who falls in “love at first sight” with the shipwrecked prince, Ferdinand, the first man she meets (after her father).

Hunter Paul filled the part of the equally-smitten object of her affections, Ferdinand, with manly aplomb, doing his assigned menial task of moving wood with good grace, stripped to the waist.

Just menacing enough to give an “edge” to things were Rob Gallavan as Antonio, the usurping brother of Prospero, and Andrew Rathgeber as Sebastian, brother of the King of Naples.

Wonderfully creepy and compelling was a scene in which Gallavan’s Antonio appears to have convinced Rathgeber’s Sebastian to murder the king in his sleep, foiled at the last moment, by Ariel.

David Pasto was understated but effective as the good, loyal, graying Gonzalo, a counselor who supplied provisions that saved Prospero and Miranda, when they were sent into exile.

Lasting some two hours (not counting an intermission), Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park’s “The Tempest,” briskly directed by Michael Jones, is highly recommended and shouldn’t be missed.

— John Brandenburg

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