Chicago Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” Review – Most Magical!


Know ahead of time that this is one of the Chicago Shakespeare productions that you will want to see several times.



No need to dread one of those modern updates of Shakespeare that disappoints as an overreach.  Rather, think instead that William Shakespeare looks down on this setting of an early 20th Century dustbowl world of conjurers replete with period sounding music by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan and claps enthusiastically with approval.  Sorcery is, after all, intertwined in “The Tempest” story.  In this production, with the aid of co-director Teller (from famed magic act Penn & Teller), magic acts weave into nearly every scene with great effect.  



Even before the curtain, magician/actor Nate Dendy as Ariel engages audience members with his magic tricks that give you your first taste of “how did he do that?” awe.  The action never slows to let you deconstruct this collage of magic but rather builds your sense of WOW! until it rouses you to your feet in a standing ovation at the play’s conclusion.



In thick white makeup, quirky head tilts and quirkier still body glides, Dendy’s performance as this spirit character Ariel is itself worth the price of admission.


Larry Yando too, in the leading role of Prospero, gives a performance that reminds us of why he has received so many awards and recognition for his acting skill. 



For some of us though, it is the creation of the monster Caliban by Pilobolus choreographers and its muscular execution by dancers/actors Zach Eisenstat and Manelich Minniefee that is the treasure amidst treasures.  As if tethered, they twirl  each other up and down and over with movements that are at once monstrous but always graceful, meanwhile delivering their lines in total sync.



You would be making a huge mistake to bypass this production because you think you’ve seen The Tempest already.  Directors Aaron Posner and Teller bring so much creativity and vision to the telling of the tale that you will feel as if you’ve never read, heard or seen it before.


Now through November 8 in the Chicago Shakespeare Courtyard Theater at Navy Pier.


For tickets or information call the Chicago Shakespeare box office at 312 595 5600 or visit the Chicago Shakespeare website.




Photos:  Liz Lauren








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