Despite the chaos of the titular storm, Madeira’s production of “The Tempest” was all smooth sailing. The plotlines, movement, and transitions weaved together seamlessly, clarifying any plot points lost in the sometimes-unclear dialogue.
“The Tempest” is believed to be one of Shakespeare’s final works, written in 1610. Shakespeare’s version would have had an all-male cast, but the cast of Madeira’s production was all female. Consequently, some names were altered to fit the all-female production.
The story follows rightful Duchess Prospera of Milan, who has been stranded for 12 years on an island with her daughter, Miranda, after being sent away by her sister Antonia and Queen Alonsa of Naples. Prospera orders the Ariels, or spirits, to conjure up a tempest to strand her enemies on the island. The play contains three intermingling plot lines: the plight of the shipwreck, the revenge of Prospera, and the love between Miranda and Prince Ferdinand of Naples.
Prospera’s (Kelleen Moriarty’s) motherly instincts and commanding stage presence made her a perfect fit for queen. Through body language and tone of voice, she established varied relationships with each of the other characters. Her tender relationship with Miranda (Grace Owen) was shaped through delicate hair stroking and warm language, whereas her authoritative relationship over her subjects on the island was established through scolding.
The jester Trinculo (Jeeho Ha), the drunkard Stephano (Mary Kate Gould), and the monster Caliban (Kerstin Shimkin) carried the comedic aspect of the show. This side plot involves the two humans confusing the monster for a fish and, upon realizing he isn’t, getting him drunk on wine so they can take him back to England and sell him for a fortune. The trio then plots to overthrow Prospera and take over the island. Ha especially demonstrated a mastery of her part, annunciating clearly and loudly and complementing her lines with engaging vocal inflections and amusing facial expressions.
The fairies, particularly the Ariels (Cori Williams and Diana Smith), were fluid and together as they flitted around the stage. In contrast, Caliban was portrayed as being animalistic, always crouching low to the ground. Their uninterrupted movements were facilitated by the detailed, creative sets, which were constructed by students. There were staircases and platforms made to look like boulders, which added a sense of depth to the production and gave the actresses several levels to work with.
Although some of the dialogue was incomprehensible, the actresses managed to convey the story through consistently effective movement, body language, and tone of voice.