Theater Review: Entertainment And Intrigue With The Sherman Players’ ‘The Tempest’
SHERMAN — The Sherman Players takes its summer audiences to an island full of intrigue, humor, and young love with The Tempest. Skillfully and imaginatively directed by Robin Frome, this production extracts every bit of silliness and sentiment from Shakespeare’s script.
Prospero, played by Katherine Almquist, has been cast out to sea after being relieved of his title as the Duke of Milan. With his lovely young daughter, Miranda, in tow, Prospero lands on an island inhabited only by a wildman named Caliban and a sprite named Ariel. Both come under the rule of Prospero.
As others are washed ashore by the eponymous tempest, caused by Prospero’s newly acquired magic skills, intrigue and threat ensue.
Newly arrived King Alonso and his son, Ferdinand, have become separated by the rough seas. Alonso believes Ferdinand is dead. He is heartbroken. Gonzalo and Adrian try to reassure and soothe him. The plot thickens. Brother of Prospero, Antonio, and brother of Alonso, Sebastian, connive to murder the king and take the crown.
Elsewhere on the island, Ferdinand has found the beautiful Miranda and instantly fallen in love. Prospero gives his blessing for their union. Ariel has found Caliban cavorting and plotting with Trinculo, the ship’s jester and manservant Stephano. With the help of some homemade wine, these three goofballs plan to kill Prospero and rule the island themselves.
The serious botswain, played by Tom Heydenburg, keeps a steadfast eye on the seas to determine the safety of a return to the mainland.
Ariel and the three spirits use all the hocus pocus they can muster to drive the events and the end is one of forgiveness and reunion. A truly happy ending.
This cast is rich with talent and enthusiasm for the work of Shakespeare. They rise to the challenges of the language to render remarkable characters. The work is deftly handled by young actors as well as those more seasoned. It was exciting to watch the younger actors so fully play out these roles, in particular Patrick Fergus as Ferdinand. It was a delight to watch him intently engage, even as his character was silent.
Devilishly enjoying her magical powers, Liv Heaton was a beguiling Ariel. Lizzy Booth played a sweet and innocent Miranda. The broad performance of Tyler Holm as the rambunctious Trinculo was spot on, as was his comrade Stephano, played by Frederic Thaler
Playing the weary and grief-stricken Alonso, Dean Alexander gave an excellent performance. His colleagues, Gonzalo and Adrian, played by John Fabiani and Jeff Rossman were steadfast. As the two attempting a murderous coup, Sebastian, played by Michael Shaner, and Antonio, played by Thomas Medicino, managed a perfect balance of evil and ineptitude.
John Bergdahl’s Caliban was a rambunctious, bold, and boisterous character. He was captivating. In a gender twist, Katherine Almquist’s Prospero was a thoughtful rendition as her character reckoned with the obstacles, events, and challenges he encountered. His reliance on Ariel to execute his plans was treated with appreciation and reward. Ariel utilized the help of three spirits, Kat Taborsak, Campbell Coughlin, and Abi Heydenburg. They were all lovely as they sang like angels and flit about like fairies.
The Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s final plays, is full of the elements of sheer entertainment. The play continues through July 20, at the Sherman Playhouse, 5 Route 39 North, Sherman; Friday-Sunday, July 5-7 and July 12-14; Saturday and Sunday, July 19 and 20; and Sundays, July 7 and 14, at 2 pm. Go to shermanplayers.org/buy-tickets.php for ticket information.
The Sherman Players production is captivating and lively summer fare at its best. Enjoy a trip to the island!
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