by Jessica Thebus
and Frank Maugeri
Adapted by Jessica Thebus
Design by Frank Maugeri
based on the play by Shakespeare
At Chicago Shakespeare Upstairs Theatre, Chicago
Fascinating and most engaging take on Shakespeare’s last play worth seeing
With Jessica Thebus adaptation of The Tempest and her co-direction and co-creation with Redmoon’s Frank Maugeri, the resulting The Feast: an intimate Tempest is a unique art piece utilizing some text with puppets, video, music, masks, and a banquet table made in a cross with moving slats. We find Prospero (John Judd), the Duke of Milian using his books and his magic to seek revenge with the aid of his two slaves: Ariel (Samuel Taylor) a passive helper and Caliban (Adrian Danzig) a feisty relunctant aid. When Prospero rings his bell, the reenactment of the storms that send his enemy’s ship wrecked to his island. Prospero manipulates fate to have all aboard reach the island safely.
With Ariel and Caliban deft use of the fabulous live-size masks and the magnificent puppet work by Sarah Addison Ely and Dustin Valenta, the story of The Tempest unfolds. It is Prospero’s feast as he demands an accurate account of the story that contains smattering of Shakespeare’s text nimbly rendered by Judd, Taylor and Danzig. In this vividly dazzling 70 minute one-act, we are constantly surprised by the visuals, the ever-changing table and the charming use of both masks and puppets, even flowers pop-up from the table!
We empathize with Ariel and Caliban as each beg for food and work to escape Prospero’s clutches. The short work fascinates us throughout despite being a tad too hard to follow. Only those quite familiar with The Tempest will be able to follow the text and the action. But no matter, since the basic actions of revenge and treachery enhances Prospero’s depth of power. The Feast is an illuminating and intoxicating evening of theatre. The combination of live performances (Judd, Danzig and Taylor were outstanding) and the props (complex table) with the lighting (by Andrew H. Meyers) and, of course the masks and puppets make for an artful theatrical event. Rich storytelling rivets us. So read The Tempest before you see The Feast – it’ll make your experience more enlightening.
Date Reviewed: February1, 2012
For more info checkout The Feast page on theatreinchicago.com
At Chicago Shakespeare Upstairs Theatre, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL, call 312-595-5600, www.chicagoshakes.com, tickets $35 – $45, Wednesday thru Saturday at 7:30 pm, Saturday and Sundays at 3pm, running time is 70 minutes without intermission, through March 11, 2012