Commentary by Jay Kopelman and Sherry Bracken:
Jerry Tracy is absolutely marvelous as Prospero in what is thought to be Shakespeare’s final play, “The Tempest,” now on stage at the Aloha Theater. The Shakespearean prose rolls off his tongue, with words that might not come naturally to others just flowing from Tracy….and making sense. He brings humor, emotion and dignity to the role.
“The Tempest” is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s original play. Director Susie Burke, who teaches and directs in Los Angeles, has shortened it and simplified the plot.
The story is set on an island in the Indian Ocean during the time of the great Portuguese Era of Exploration and Conquest (1503-1509). Prospero, the Duke of Ceylon, has been overthrown and banished by his brother, Antonio, and Alonsa, the Queen of Madras. Prospero and his daughter Miranda, now a young woman, have been on the island since Miranda was just a toddler. Prospero has retained his magic powers. Prospero uses those powers to create a “tempest,” a storm, that results in a ship bearing Antonio and Alonsa wrecking and throwing the sailors onto the island where Prospero and Miranda now live.
There is great comic relief with Cathy Riehle as the drunken cook Stephana and Alec Lugo (seen last year as Peter Van Daam in The Story of Anne Frank) as the jester Trinculo. David C. Payne was outstanding, as usual, in his portrayal of Prospero’s savage and deformed slave, Caliban. Caliban adds to the comic relief when he, Stephana, and Trinculo come up with a plot to kill Prospero (which fails; this is not a tragedy).
Roseanne Fox is terrific as Prospero’s spirit, Ariel, and gets to show off her grace and her singing as well as her acting skills.
The set and costumes are creative and beautiful. The lighting and sound special effects make Prospero’s magic believable. And the actors all do good work.
The biggest challenge was that some of the actors seemed to forget they did not have microphones, and the only way for the audience to stay engaged was for them to project their voices. Tracy never fails, but some of the other actors need to remember to boost their voices.
Hawaii Island is fortunate to have a troupe of actors willing to undertake the challenges of bringing Shakespeare to the stage. And the Aloha Performing Arts Company does it well.