Miranda, Prospero and FerdinandPhoto by T. Charles Erickson
The master magician Prospero has been sent in exile, with his young daughter Miranda, to a deserted island by his brother Antonio, with the help of Alonso the King of Naples, because of jealousy. Prospero is the rightful Duke of Milan and now, twelve years after the deed, he is set to enact his revenge.
A ship carrying Alonso and Antonio and Alonso’s son Ferdinand and brother Sebastian is traveling home from Tunis where Alonso’s daughter Claribel has just wed the King and Prospero has sent a giant storm, a tempest, to cause it to shipwreck.
Let yourself surrender to the spellbinding enchantment which director Darko Tresnjak has woven into the Hartford Stage’s magnificent rendering of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” until Sunday, June 10.
Daniel Davis is riveting as the powerful Prospero. Thanks to Gonzalo (Noble Shropshire), one of his enemy’s henchmen, and his initial help of food, water, clothes and a library of books when Prospero and a three year old Miranda were set adrift in a small boat, Prospero has thrived on the tiny island. With the aide of Ariel (Shirine Babb), a spirit only he can see, and Caliban (Ben Cole), an ungrateful and menacing son of a witch, he has learned to survive. While Ariel serves him, she only desires her freedom, but Caliban resents his presence and wants him gone.
Through his incantations, Prospero separates the men on the ship into three groups, so that Alonso and his son Ferdinand each believe the other is dead. Two of Alonso’s servants Stephano (Michael Spencer-Davis) and Trinculo (Bruce Turk) are delightfully drunk and fall in with Caliban to plot a ridiculous defeat of Prospero. The handsome young Ferdinand (William Patrick Riley) is immediately smitten with Miranda (Sara Topham), so quickly that Prospero feels he must place a few obstacles in the path of true love so “too light winning (may) make the prize light.”
Meanwhile Antonio (Jonathan Lincoln Fried) and Sebastian (David Barlow) have treachery firmly in mind as they plot to murder Alonso (Christopher Randolph) and the good-hearted Gonzalo so that Sebastian can become King.
A forgiving Prospero, calm after the storm, with the help of the Bard, makes sure everything works out as “all’s well that ends well.” The set designed by Alexander Dodge is wondrous to behold, beautifully complemented by Fabio Toblini’s lovely costumes, Michael Chybowski’s inspired lighting and David Budries and Nathan A Roberts’ dramatic sounds and original music.
For tickets ($59.50-90.50), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m.
Let Prospero and Ariel catch you in their web of enchantment that is both mesmerizing and magical in its utter imagination.