It’s been an unsurpassed season for Shakespeare in Philadelphia, with Lantern’s ROMEO AND JULIET, and Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre’s TWELFTH NIGHT and TITUS ANDRONICUS. And Curio Theatre Company’s THE TEMPEST ranks right up there with the best of the Bard. From the opening scene to the final bow, Curio casts a spell and entrances the audience with its creative direction, captivating acting, and beguiling staging—an irresistibly powerful potion of masterful presentation and theatrical illusion.
Dan Hodge (the Barrymores’ multi-talented reigning Best Actor of 2011), proves his considerable prowess as a director (should anyone need more proof after the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective’s flawless THE DUCHESS OF MALFI in 2010). He invests us in Prospero’s tale from the very beginning, as the deposed Duke of Milan turned sorcerer enlists the audience’s aid to conjure the eponymous storm that will hurl his usurpers from their ship onto the enchanted island of his twelve-year banishment. For the next two hours, Curio’s excellent ensemble engages us in Shakespeare’s rich panoply of revenge and romance, mayhem and magic, and, ultimately, release and forgiveness, capturing the play’s full range of moods and emotions with skillful balance and subtle transitions.
Brian McCann is intent and commanding as Prospero, controlling and bewitching his daughter Miranda, the sprite Ariel, the enslaved Caliban, and the ship’s sundry castaways (well acted by Steve Carpenter, Liam Castellan, Aetna Gallagher, Ken Opdenaker, and Eric Scotolati). Isa St. Clair plays both Miranda and Ariel, summoned by Prospero to possess his daughter’s body; under Hodge’s ingenious vision, her eyes, voice, and breathing patterns are distinctly transformed as she metamorphoses from human to spirit and back again. And Robert DaPonte is incomparable as the savage Caliban, snorting and slobbering, threatening and bellowing, and maneuvering around on all fours, in a fully committed performance that should earn him the Barrymore nod he so richly deserves.
From Caliban’s bestial make-up and patches of body hair, to Prospero’s magic garment, to the aristocratic Elizabethan dress of the conspirators and their entourage, Aetna Gallagher’s costumes inform and enhance the actors’ characterizations. Hodge and set designer Paul Kuhn (the company’s Artistic Director and co-founder) make clever use of Curio’s multi-leveled space in the sanctuary of Calvary Church, converting the choir loft into the storm-tossed vessel, as Jared Reed’s dramatic lighting casts Prospero’s towering shadow on the wind-beaten sails and Patrick Lamborn’s enveloping sound design echoes throughout the interior. A series of well-timed special effects further delight the audience and transport us into the mystical world of Prospero’s island.
Performances begin at 8 pm on Thursdays through Saturdays; tickets are affordably priced at $15-20, and there is no extra fee for online purchases, so don’t miss your opportunity to be swept away by THE TEMPEST and enraptured by Curio’s magical production!
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Dan Hodge
April 19-May 19, 2012
Curio Theatre Company
4740 Baltimore Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19143
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