Over the years, Red Deer College Theatre Studies students have consistently done an admirable job with interpreting the various works of William Shakespeare.
This winter is no different with their presentation of The Tempest, with shows continuing through to Feb. 13th on the Arts Centre’s mainstage. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. There is also a weekend matinee Feb. 13th at 1 p.m.
Directed by Thomas Usher, The Tempest is considered one of Shakespeare’s greatest works.
Cast away on an enchanted isle, the once powerful Prospero struggles to raise his daughter Miranda in this new world.
Together with the mythical inhabitants of the island, he uses the magic he has studied to raise a storm and wreak havoc upon his oppressors. The play opens as Prospero, having divined that his sister Antonia is on a nearby ship, has stirred up a tempest that causes the passengers to believe they are shipwrecked.
Also on the ship are Antonia’s friend and fellow conspirator, King Alonso of Naples, Alonso’s son (Ferdinand) and Alonso’s counselor Gonzolo.
From the start, audiences are drawn into the heart of the story via a wonderfully atmospheric set by Carrie Hamilton, a haunting soundscape produced by Luke Ertman and an effective light design created by Patrick Beagan.
Of course, Shakespearean language isn’t the easiest thing in the world to understand but thanks to some outstanding performances, and the lively, engaging interaction amongst the characters, the story’s plot and meaning does begin to come together.
Layne Zazalak turns in an excellent performance as Prospero, the focus of the story. As mentioned, Prospero has been stuck on an island for a dozen years with his daughter Miranda (Meegan Sweet), but has come to wield power – and oppression – on the island’s inhabitants over time. Thus the ‘usurped’ has essentially become the ‘usurper’.
After all, he was the rightful Duke of Milan. But Antonia (aided by Alonso), got rid of him by setting him adrift with his daughter Miranda.
Prospero also comes to be served by a spirit called Yaahl Jaad (Raven Woman) who is played by Ashley Mercia who captures the jittery movements and mannerisms of a ‘raven’ so well. It’s a challenging role, but she nails it via her expression and energy.
Derek Olinek also plays Gonzolo and provides some of the play’s most dramatic moments as well.
Trysten Luck, as Caliban, turns in one of the sharpest performances of the play. From the demanding physicality of the play to his raw, uninhibited performance on virtually every level, Luck is a constant scene-stealer and entertaining to watch, even though Caliban is a tormented individual.
Several plots alternate through the play.
Ferdinand (Logan Shave) and Miranda (Sweet) almost immediately take a shine to each other under the wary eye of Prospero. These two provide a convincing, innocent love story and are a delight to watch – I would also say of the entire cast, they are the strongest in physically speaking their lines – there is absolute clarity there, which strengthens their performances and makes it that much easier for audiences to understand the evolution of their relationship.
Ultimately, Prospero, all his enemies in his power, has a decision to make about both his and their destinies.
Who else but Shakespeare can be constantly reinterpreted and enjoyed by modern audiences? He had such insight into human nature, and the issues that surface in our own lives. And with strong performances, an enchanting set and solid direction by Usher, you really can’t go wrong.
Tickets are available at www.bkticketcentre.ca.