Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Tempest - American Repertory Theater productoion

I am far from a Shakespeare fan - or evenly overly knowledgeable about his works, other than his lines that have become part of the popular culture lexicon - but with magician Teller co-directing and Tom Waits' music providing the soundtrack, we were intrigued enough to check out the Tempest.

The story is typically Shakespeareianly (did I just make up that word - guess so) complicated and if you are not familiar with the play and haven't read the synopsis - and maybe even if you have - you will be mighty lost - especially considering that the backstory that gives you the basis for the tale takes place before the play starts! But, if you have the gist, it is enjoyable, especially with Teller's illusions and Tom Waits' songs - performed by an excellent live band that you can watch on a balcony above the musicians - dominating the program.

Waits' songs are more-or-less from his Rain Dogs-era and fit surprisingly well thematically as well as musically. The musicians and two female vocalists are dressed to impress and they are a joy to watch - some say they stole the show, even. Kudos especially to the percussionist(s) who managed to bring these rhythm-heavy songs to life, without overpowering the actors.

The acting and the costuming are all well-done, also, and it is all put together in a 510 seat "tent" (that feels more intimate than that) outside the Smith Center - albeit, an air-conditioned, sturdy-walled tents that could handle the Las Vegas winds and keep the clientele comfortable - although there was some noise leakage as nearby trains passed or helicopters flew by.

Overall, highly enjoyable and recommended for those who dig magic and Tom Waits - and who doesn't?