The Resident Acting Company in New York City celebrated the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio with a performance of The Tempest on November 16 at The Players.
Many fans of Shakespeare appreciate the play’s exploration of emotions like love, betrayal, revenge, magic, and family. Shakespeare may have written this play as late as 1610-1611, and is perhaps his last one. Some claim The Tempest is his farewell to the stage and debate whether the play is a tragedy or comedy. One cannot deny a gender imbalance in the story, a common theme of the day, with Shakespeare writing only one female role in the entire script.
Act I occurs 12 years before a major part of the story begins. Prospero (Glenn Fleshler), the former Duke of Milan and sorcerer, has been overthrown by his brother Antonio (R.J. Foster), and the King of Naples (Carol Schultz). Fleshler is formidable in his performance as the story’s protagonist. Prospero and Miranda (Julia Baker) find refuge on a deserted island, and they are both protected by the spirit of Ariel (Carine Montbertrand).
Aware that Antonio’s ship is nearby, Prospero invokes a destructive storm, shipwrecking Alonso, his son Ferdinand (Eddie Cruz), and other court members. Prospero plots revenge to take back his kingdom. Sorcery and mystery surround Prospero’s request of Ariel to produce a masque; in Renaissance England, they often presented a masque as a disorder, and the troupe onstage engaged in singing and untamed dancing. As a result, Prospero has the upper hand, seeing his secret plans for a takeover coming to fruition.
Prospero’s chances of reclaiming his throne depend on his daughter marrying Ferdinand to preserve their royal bloodline. Ariel uses a new masque in the last act to teach Miranda the gift of chastity and not disorder; the masque in The Tempest is not an actual masque but delivers the narrative of the drama it contains. Montbertrand’s performance is dynamic and captivating in her role.
By seeing the culmination of his plot with the use of his daughter, Prospero forgives all who intended him harm and requests the audience to set him free. Those in attendance applauded, as they did in Shakespeare’s time, and Prospero became the rightful king once again. Perhaps the ending to The Tempest represents Shakespeare’s personal request to be released from the stage before retiring. In short, we will never know.
The Tempest by William Shakespeare was presented by The Resident Acting Company. Performances by Carol Schultz, Jennifer Yadav, Glenn Fleshler, R.J. Foster, Eddie Cruz, Dan Daily, Jay Patterson, Andy Paterson, Duane Boutte, Julia Baker, and Carine Montbertrand. Directed by Bradford Cover; Production Stage Manager Jason Imber; Club Sponsor Grace Ann Baresich; Photos by Al Foote III.
The Players, 16 Gramercy Park South, New York 10003