Tempest Redux Review - A Smile for Shakespeare

Loosely based on Shakespeare, TEMPEST REDUX brilliantly focuses on the key elements in this classic while adding music and dance to replace much of the verbal with a creative blitz. The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and The New American Theatre have collaborated with amazing results. It’s hard to believe that seven actors and three dancers manage to recreate so completely a three-act play in 90 minutes.

 

Charles Hunter Paul, Jack Stehlin, and Mimi Davila - Photo by Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin

The familiar becomes refreshingly new as mage Prospero (Jack Stehlin) unleashes a sorcerer’s tempest to draw his enemies’ ship to him on his barren island exile. Soon his innocent daughter Miranda (Mimi Davila) - with a name stemming linguistically from “wonder” - discovers something new and exciting as she encounters her first young virile male (Charles Hunter Paul), who just happens to be the son of the king. Their meeting poignantly and effectively captures innocence, attraction, and love through music and dance. This is a mating which is exactly what Prospero had in mind all along. TEMPEST REDUX plays as more of a love story liberally sprinkled with magic than a tale of revenge. In fact, Prospero forgives his conniving brother, who stole his title and possessions, and releases Ariel from slavery as he happily settles into his personal dream. Caliban is a different matter.

 

Briana Price, Jack Stehlin, Shea Donovan, and Emily Yetter - Photo by Enci Box

Ariel has become three graceful dancers (Shea Donovan, Briana Price, and Emily Yetter) who act as one and yet magically are everywhere at once. An especially intriguing concept is this Tempest’s portrayal of the monster Caliban, who is performed by two talented actors as they swarm over each other with kaleidoscopic versatility - delivering their lines amidst tumbles and spins. Kudos to Willem Long and Dash Pepin for their energetic and powerful interpretation. And they never miss a beat.

 

Jack Stehlin, Willem Long, and Dash Pepin - Photo by Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin

Director John Farmanesh-Bocca clearly understands and appreciates Shakespeare’s play and lovingly juggles and weaves the details to achieve a fascinating and fun mix which should resonate with both Shakespeare lovers and people who just never liked Shakespeare. A call to all non-Shakespeare aficionados - you’re going to love this rendition of the Tempest.

 

Dennis Gersten and Gildart Jackson - Photo by Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin

Christopher Murillo’s set is simple and effective. Bosco Flanagan’s lighting and John Formanesh-Bocca and Adam Phalen’s sound enhance the overall production. Denise Blasor’s costumes are interesting, mixing contemporary and old in a mish-mash of styles which will hold your attention. The entire production team has succeeded in making a classic into a gripping modern show. Did I mention the snippets of contemporary songs?

 TEMPEST REDUX runs through April 10, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025. Tickets range from $25 to $34 with some discounts. Contact the theater for specific performance dates and discounts. For information and reservations, call 310-477-2055 ext. 2 or go online at www.OdysseyTheatre.com.

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