The Tempest | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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THE TEMPEST, Barat College of DePaul University. Shakespeare's late romance is most often interpreted these days as a parable on colonialism and freedom embodied in a story of redemption. I've yet to see a production that doesn't cast a black man in the role of the half-man/half-monster slave, Caliban, and that includes this one, which features the capable Warren Jackson. Instead of ending with Prospero's valedictory epilogue, this production, directed by Karla Koskinen, closes with Caliban in possession of both his foster father-master's magic staff and the island paradise that Prospero stole from him in the first place. Inevitably a whiff of Mandingo permeates the play, given that Caliban's most grievous transgression is his alleged (by Prospero) attempted rape of Prospero's lily-white daughter, Miranda. What's most intriguing in Koskinen's staging is the naive sensual teasing by Miranda (Kristen Totten) of the slave--behavior replicated later with the white prince Ferdinand (Christopher Grobe), who wins the crusty magician's approval rather handily. Racial and sexual politics aside, Koskinen's interpretation falls into the solid-but-unremarkable category, save for the splendid performance of Craig Spidle as Prospero. Ken Borden Jr. and Sean Patrick Fawcett as Stephano and Trinculo, respectively, are nowhere near as funny as they should be. Among the rest of the shipwrecked set, only Matthew Lon Walker's Gonzalo consistently finds a defining note for his character. But it's a good-looking show, and at least everyone has sufficient vocal skills to get the language across in this outdoor staging.

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