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Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011

American Players Theatre's Bold, Bright 'Tempest'

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Even those who love William Shakespeare know the Bard was not always at his best.

The Tempest
, written late in the author's career, is a pastiche of Shakespeare's brightest formulas woven with fantastical threads, allowing for significant literary license. American Players Theatre colors those threads brightly in its current production, creating a bold sensory experience out of the author's muddle.

Director James Bohnen walks his cast briskly through the tale of magician and former nobleman Prospero (Kenneth Albers) and daughter Miranda (Susan Shunk), who are banished to a deserted island, and the vengeance Prospero takes against a ship full of former friends and foes that sails too closely and into a tempest of his creation.

Prospero is aided by a cadre of nymphs and goddesses led by chief sprite Ariel (Deborah Staples). The ethereal troupe sings and dances, confounding the shipwreck victims led by Alonso, the King of Naples (James Ridge), wandering aimlessly around the island. There is the requisite love story between Miranda and the king's son Ferdinand (Travis A. Knight) and plotting by some drunken servants (Steve Haggard and Darragh Kennan) headed by Prospero's misshapen slave, Caliban (Steve Wojtas).

Prospero's magic results in a resolution too neat, but the sensory ride still brought the audience to its feet for a job very colorfully done.

American Players Theatre's The Tempest runs through Sept. 30. For more information, call 608-588-2361.
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