Monday, December 5, 2011

The Tempest and Tamburlaine the Great at the ASC

I saw The Tempest at the American Shakespeare Center several times over the summer and fall seasons, but I never got around to actually reviewing it. The Tempest, as with many of Shakespeare's laters plays, is not my favorite. That said, I did enjoy the performances I saw. James Keegan was as brilliant as always in the role of Prospero. Keegan tends to dominate the stage at all times with his presence. Miriam Donald is wonderful as Prospero's child-like daughter Miranda, and she and Patrick Midgley's Ferdinand have terrific chemistry. Other great performances include Benjamin Curns' turn as Caliban, the half-man, half-fish creature; Chris Johnston as Stephano, and Allison Glenzer as Trinculo. Those three have the audience rolling several times. Curns, Johnston, and Rene Thornton, Jr. tear the house down as the spirits Juno, Ceres, and Iris. Erin West's costumes are fantastic for this production, really some of the best I've seen at the ASC. OK, so The Tempest wasn't my favorite ASC production of all time, but it was better every time I saw it and I can't think of a much better way to spend a couple of hours among friends.

Tamburlaine the Great, or the James Keegan Show, was something I had been looking forward to all season. I saw a preview of it early on but I missed the final scene because of a snoring boor in the audience. The play has some terrific language, but the plot is pretty sparse and the play is wholly dominated by the title character. There are a few moments for some of the other actors, particularly Blythe Coons as Zenocrate, Chris Johnston and Miriam Donald as Tamburlaine's minions Ucumcasane and Techelles, and Rene Thornton, Jr. as Bajazeth and Allison Glenzer as Zabina, but the play is pretty much a vehicle to show how great Tamburlaine actually is. You basically wait the whole play for Tamburlaine to get his comeuppance, but it never happens. Once again, Erin West's costumes are outstanding. I hope the ASC will consider a production of Tamburlaine part two.

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