The Tempest: When Shakespeare Meets Lost

On Saturday night I enjoyed Lawn Chair Theater's fun production of The Tempest at Lyon Park in Port Chester, New York.  Directed by Tal Aviezer, it borrowed themes from the TV show Lost, which was inspired in part by The Tempest -- the result was an entertaining modern retelling of the classic play that both fans of the Bard and contemporary audiences intimidated by iambic pentameter can both appreciate.

The play was a great rendition of Shakespeare's beautiful words with some imaginative choices -- an airplane crash instead of a boat crash, expository flashbacks enacted over soliloquys, and catchy musical numbers (including a show stopping version of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance!")  I could tell that the talented cast had a blast putting on a show like this -- their enthusiasm was evident and contagious. 

The cast included Larry Reina as the spellcasting, vengeance-seeking Prospero; Emma Green as the supernatural Ariel; Chloe Delaitre as Prospero's innocent daughter Miranda; and Tom Nailor as the enslaved son-of-a-witch Caliban, the "monster" of the island. 

Kimberley Lowden played the Dutchess Antonia, Prospero's conniving sister, plotting with David Ryan as Sebastian, the king's traitorous brother.  The characters face the strange visions and occurances of the island instigated by the spirits under Prospero's control while dealing with their own personal baggage that they carry with them.  The rest of the talented cast consisted of Dylan O'Brian as Stephano, John Fotia as Gonzalo, John Chillemi as Alonzo, Ethan Levine-Weinberg as Trinculo, Elaine Healy as the Captain (and a Spirit), Jenny McCray as Adrian, Kevin Thompson as Ferdinand, Annalisa DiNucci as Francesca, and Dara Gold as a Spirit.

Here's an excerpt from the program's Director's Note: "The Tempest is believed by many scholars to be the very last play Shakespeare wrote, and in it we find the Bard working in what seems to be a final explosion of creative frenzy, cramming every genre and convention, every style from tragedy to farce, a text ranging from dirty jokes to cosmic melancholy, all that he had learned in his long and legendary career, into his final play.  Prospero's unforgettable final meditations in the closing scene are those of a man reclaiming his own humanity, and also a great artist putting away his palette and brushes for the last time...(The Tempest) has been freely adapted and re-adapted by authors and productions over the centuries; science fiction fans, in particular, will recognize that the plot of the 1956 MGM pulp classic Forbidden Planet was lifted wholesale from The Tempest, and that the recent hit television series Lost also counts the play among its many inspirations.  In this production, we have taken the liberty of 'borrowing back' a few ideas from those modern variations, as we in the New World, four-hundred-plus years after this play was written, reflect back on Shakespeare's early impressions of the 'brave new world' in which we live."

As I wrote in a previous blog essay, Shakespeare's tales never grow old!