The Métropolitain

La tempête a rainswept “Tempest”

By Alidor Aucoin on August 7, 2008

Mother nature provided a thrilling opening at the end of July to the Repercussion Theatre Company’s English language production of The Tempest on Bonsecours Island in the Old Port.

“The sky it seemed would pour down stinking pitch,” wrote Shakespeare, and it did. The company carried on in spite of the rain, and driving music from the Les Roi de l’Afrique circus tent nearby added to the Caribbean imagery.

The Tempest marks Repercussion’s 20th anniversary, and is on tour in English and in French in a number of island parks until August 17. Each location provides a different ambiance which inevitably alters the texture of each performance.

It’s perhaps unfair to review the play on the basis of its rain sogged opening. Still, this production owes as much to Pirates of the Caribbean as it does to Shakespeare. The fish like creatures and pasty faced characters brought to life by Prospero’s magic spells are truly bizarre.

Rain in several venues did not prevent Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, from working his magic on his cast of players shipwrecked on an island somewhere “in the still vexed Bermudas.” Any production of this heady political romance hinges on Prospero and his two servants — the half-beast, Caliban (Amelia Sargisson) who represents the carnal, and Ariel (Aurélie Morgane), the spiritual.

Sargisson is a squirming, squealing Caliban; Morgane, an earthy rather than an ethereal Ariel.

Greg Kramer is an effective, if heavy handed Prospero in English; François Trudel’s interpretation of the wizard in French is much more mercurial.

Emily Skahan is alluring as Prospero’s wide-eyed daughter, Miranda and Jean-Philippe Baril Guérard cuts a dashing figure as her love struck suitor, Ferdinand The rest of the bilingual cast alternate their respective roles in both languages.

Propsero’s island is peopled with some strange fish. Antoine Yared doubles nicely as Sebastian the drunken Stephano. His scenes with Danielle Desormeaux, who doubles as Alonza, the queen (instead of the king) of Naples, as well as the clown, Trincula, are hilarious.

Pierre-Yves Cardinal-David is a fine villain as Propsero’s treacherous brother, Antonio and Jean -Jacques Simon brings a noble sense of duty to the role of Gonzalo.

Nick Carptener’s musical direction contributes to the fantasy, and James Lavoie’s set is serviceable.

It is a splendid troupe of players to be congratulated above all for their endurance under the most difficult circumstances. So far, they have had to compete with the rain on five of seven performances.

The Tempest plays Cabot Square in front of the AMC Forum August 9th in English at 7:30 PM, and La Tempête, in French, is at the same  time and location on August 10th. The tour continues until August 17th.


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