Behind the Wall Street Journal's subscrber wall, he has more to say:In theater as in all other art forms, believe what you see, not what you're told. On paper, Shakespeare Theatre's production of The Tempest sounds like the worst kind of politico-intellectual stew, Shakespeare run through the theory mill and turned into a Statement for Our Times. On stage, it's a fantastic procession of sights and sounds that will set your head to spinning. Kate Whoriskey, the director, may fancy herself a purveyor of ideas, but in fact she's something infinitely more preciousa natural-born stage magician.
And alsoLittle of this will be self-evident unless you make the mistake of reading the program notes first. Don't. Go in cold and revel in the purely theatrical marvels she and her collaborators have conjured up, including a flying Ariel (Daniel Breaker), a show-opening storm so enveloping that you'll grab the nearest umbrella, a set seemingly built from the timbers of a wrecked ship (good job, Walt Spangler), and a background tapestry of music and sound effects so elaborately commingled that you can scarcely tell one from the other (ditto, Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen).
There's more to the review, that was the Magic part.n this respect as in others, her "Tempest" puts me in mind of what I've read about the "Voodoo 'Macbeth'" staged by Orson Welles for the WPA Federal Theatre Project in 1936, a high-concept production set in 19th-century Haiti that by all accounts was a riveting spectacle, if not always altogether Shakespearean. Here, too, there are moments when the play gets buried beneath the staging -- and what of it? You can always go home and read "The Tempest," but if you're capable of imagining a "Tempest" like this one, you might as well quit your job and take up directing yourself.
Genii readers, (or editors) in the DC area take note.
There's a point in Scene 3 where Ariel makes a table full of food vanish by a "quaint device." (WIth no explanation) Drives inexperienced stage managers crazy.