At a park in the middle of Uptown amidst Charlotte’s towering skyscrapers, the words of Shakespeare are coming to life. Through June 17th at The Green Uptown, audiences can enjoy “The Tempest” performed by the Charlotte Shakespeare Theatre Company as part of this year’s Charlotte Shakespeare Festival, now in its seventh year.
“The Tempest” by William Shakespeare explores themes of vengeance, power, colonialism and knowledge. Set on an island in the Mediterranean sea, we find Prospero, the usurped Duke of Milan and his daughter, Miranda, along with their native servant, Caliban, and an unearthly spirit, Ariel. As a ship passes the island, Prospero is offered the chance to punish his usurpers — his brother, Antonio, and the King of Naples, Alonso. Using his magical powers and with the help of Ariel, Prospero causes their ship to wreck and the passengers are thrown into a strange and mysterious realm where Prospero’s schemes will make them crazed and force them to repent. Along the way, Miranda and Ferdinand, the King’s son, fall in love; hilarity ensues when Caliban becomes drunk with the jester, Trinculo, and Stephano, a butler; and mysterious music plagues the shipwrecked.
Don’t expect a strict interpretation of Shakespeare’s play from director Matt Cosper. Male characters are turned into women as King Alonso becomes Queen Alonsa, played by Andrea King. No heavy, rich Elizabethan garb to be found — instead the actors wear modern clothing with funky accessories representative of their characters. The clothing combined with the music like “the Banana Boat song” make this a highly accessible, comical performance.
The bare set with playful props of a wrecked ship hearken back to the Elizabethan stage and encourage the audience’s use of their imagination. Perhaps the most captivating of the performers are Daniel O’Sullivan, who plays the part of the nerdy Ferdinand with wonderful physical comedic timing, and Karina Roberts-Caporin,o who as Ariel is a very likeable sprite.
Next week audiences can catch this unique play from Wednesday to Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. Feel free to bring lawn chairs and blankets to be comfortable. Make a night of it with a picnic and some wine! In August, the Festival will continue with “the Merchant of Venice” at the McGlohon Theatre.