Greenview Arts Center, at Loyola Park
This modest outdoor affair, a 75-minute condensation of The Tempest performed on a hillock on the Rogers Park lakeshore, is not at all like the ambitious but somewhat passionless Tempest now playing Oak Park's Austin Gardens. Amid the distractions of conversational dogs, family barbecues, drum playing, and soccer games, with only three hurricane lanterns for illumination and, eventually, the moon, adapter-director James Michael Lynch's free Shakespeare-on-the-lake is a sweetly comic homegrown affair, a fusion of Gilligan's Island and The Love Boat (fortunately, only in the costumes).
Shakespeare's gentle comedy of reconciliation, led by Jeremy McGuire's sturdy Prospero (whose big speeches were perversely undermined by overhead planes), still casts a spell. April Hall's Miranda and Kevin Poole's Ferdinand make first love seem as spontaneous as it still can be. Thankfully, the tedious plotting of the usurped nobleman has been cut to a crisp, while the never-hilarious high jinks of the drunkard hangers-on gain momentum from Arlene Kahn's go-for-broke Caliban. No less than two Ariels (Jackie Noble and Lisa Biggs) neatly divide their dialogue and borrow some of Prospero's too.
Best was the unforeseen chemistry between a found audience and a hopeful young troupe. At one point an entranced puppy almost made it into the play. Most wonderfully, at exactly the moment when Shakespeare schedules the play's second storm, when Trinculo talks about "another storm brewing," it began to sprinkle--and stopped when the scene did. That may never happen again, no matter how many times the play is performed. It was a privilege to be there when it did.