Kate Burton (right) stars in "The Tempest" on the Old Globe's Festival Stage. Photo by Jim Cox
A wonderfully imaginative realization of The Tempest, the last play in Shakespeare’s canon, launches the Old Globe Theatre’s Summer Shakespeare Festival with a flourish. From Kate Burton’s commanding performance as Prospera, purveyor of magic and exiled ruler of an island, to some exquisitely fanciful costume design by David Israel Reynoso, this Tempest is enchanting in every sense of the word.
Though a story of forgiveness – Prospera (from Prospero in the original male-centered conception) chooses magnanimity over violence in reconciling with those who have banished her – The Tempest is as fanciful and waggish as anything Shakespeare wrote, and this production directed by Joe Dowling enjoys delightful turns from Philippe Bowgen as Ariel, Manoel Felciano as Caliban and Robert Dorfman and Andrew Weems as pranksters Stephano and Trinculo. The magic-heavy second act rightfully overwhelms the more plodding first in this production, including even an R&B/calypso mash-up celebrating the love between Prospera’s daughter Miranda (Nora Carroll) and young Ferdinand (Sam Avishay). Best is Burton’s closing monologue, which in its poignancy could be Shakespeare himself bidding his work and the world farewell. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 7/4/18.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.