Originally written and published on Uptown Flavor, 7/24/2015
This summer’s uptown iteration of Shakespeare in the Park brought The Tempest to the island of Hispaniola. I have attended the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s summer Shakespeare productions for the past three years and I hope to see next summer’s production. I have absolutely loved everything I have seen with the company thus far and am continuously happy to have high quality theater productions accessible uptown.
This is the last weekend of The Tempest, as it runs until Sunday, so prioritize this incredible free production! The final three productions are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8pm, at the Richard Rogers Ampitheater in Marcus Garvey Park. It runs about two hours. It is directed by Carl Cofield.
On the island of Hispaniola, shared between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, spirits Ariel (Fedna Jacquet) and Caliban (Carl Hendrick Louis) are held captive by stranded sorcerer Prospero (Ron Cephas Jones) and his daughter Miranda (Kimberly Chatterjee), while Prospero seeks revenge and retribution from their family back in Europe.
Like last year’s production of Romeo and Juliet, the company brought this play to life and made it easy to relate to the characters. Through dance, music, and even song, the cast used their unique talents to turn words into larger-than-life magic.
For die-hard Shakespeare fanatics to newcomers alike, the ensemble stayed true to the original intention of the words, while bringing it to the modern day. Standout Trinculo (Anthony Vaughn Merchant), with his acrobatic feats, references to modern culture, and even breaking the fourth wall, yelling “But there’s no more stage!” when asked to retreat, made the audience laugh out loud. His comedic input was necessary in what could have been an otherwise somber play of revenge and reckoning. Additionally, Ferdinand (Reynaldo Piniella) made a convincing lad in love for Miranda, with as much swag as to be expected from a modern-day fellow.
The costumes, props and set all added to the magical feel of the play and truly transported the audience to the island where Prospero awaited his backstabbing relatives. The lighting and sound effects added to the air.
Just as I did last year, I am waiting impatiently for next years’ production! For more information please visit the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s website.