Shakespeare’s The Tempest – The Canadian Stage Company

By Trent Scherer

Patrick Kwok-Choon, Taylor Trowbridge, & Audrey Dwyer

Not even a city labour dispute could put a dampener on the opening weeks of The Tempest, The Canadian Stage Company’s production for this year’s Dream in High Park.

This is the first time I have been to a Dream in High Park production, and heading to the outdoor stage I am reminded of the traditional Greek theatres. The seating has a slight curve to it but the stage is proscenium so everyone can see. Though outdoors, still expect to see the usual lighting and sound as you would indoors including a mic-ed stage. It is a beautiful space with an amazing ambiance.

Gates open at 6pm and people are welcome to come with picnic baskets and relax before the show begins at 8pm. I highly recommend doing this. Not only is it a great atmosphere for an outdoor snack, but you will also be able to secure a spot before the masses arrive.

Having said that, bring your own blankets and pillows as it really is built like a Greek theatre. It is a tiered arena with ‘seating’ on grass and rock to lean against. I also recommend bringing a jacket and possibly another blanket to wrap up in. Not only does it get cold out there once the sun goes down but it is a great way to cozy up to your date if you have one.

I have a great affection for this particular Shakespearean play as my old theatre company – 3 Men of Sin – took its name from it. This was, oddly enough, the first production of it that I have seen.

This particular production of The Tempest is a great family show. I do stress the word ‘family’ here. Though the script has a heavy, dark side to it filled with storms, retribution, and magical manipulation, the director Sue Miner has managed to keep it a light and mystical adventure.

A full production of the script as written would run over three hours. As is common practice, it has been edited for length. In this case, the editing brings it down to a two hour production; although be forewarned, there is no intermission. One piece cut was the Wedding Masque (play-within-a-play) yet is replaced with a whimsical dance that is a great sight to see.

The show has a great ensemble cast. A stand-out for my friend Hugh and I was Audrey Dwyer as Ariel. We truly enjoyed watching her – she’s a beautiful spirit to behold.

Between watching Ferdinand and Miranda fall deeply in love, the humorous buffoonery of Stefano, Trinculo, and Caliban, and a female version of Prospero command events, this production does a solid job bringing an amazingly intertwined play to life for an eventful evening.

Now this may not be everyone’s favorite production as kid-friendly can also mean rated G. An example of this being swords and knives are replaced with clubs and shells. When I asked Hugh what he though of the production, he said it was okay by his standards. Coming from the theatre world himself, he missed the darker side of the script.

Honestly, I missed the dark side of it as well, but I can still appreciate the production for what it is. If I had to make an analogy about this production, I would say that I’m a meat man and this play is strictly vegetarian.

 

Details

The Tempest plays in High Park on the Dream Stage (just East of the Grenadier restaurant).
-Performances run till September 6th – Tuesday through Sunday at 8pm. Gates open at 6pm.
-Admission is pay-what-you-can with a suggestion of a $20 donation. Children 14 and under are FREE.
-Advanced reservations are not accepted.

Photo of Patrick Kwok-Choon, Taylor Trowbridge, and Audrey Dwyer. Photo by Chris Gallow.