Every once in a while, I just need a dose of Shakespeare. It wakes up my brain and tickles my fancy, like a tonic. So I was very happy to attend a performance of The Tempest at Stockton University this week. This was a production by students, University staff and community members.
The Tempest is a comedy (nobody dies), but it deals with serious themes. Prospero, the Duke of Milan, has lost his office to his perfidious brother and suffered 12 years of exile on a desolate island. (Bermuda?!) A scholarly man, he has passed his time studying the magical arts, and is ready to retake his realm and take his young daughter back to her birthplace.
The crux of the play is the question of revenge. Prospero, an accomplished sorcerer, gains power over this enemies, power enough to kill them if he chooses. But he grants forgiveness.
The audience is reminded throughout the play that Shakespeare lived at the end of the age of magic. (Is it past? Do you encounter magical thinking? Indulge in it?) The supernatural elements (spells and sprites) are a large part of the play’s charm.
This Stockton production was highly successful. I was swept away by the poetry, music and plot. The acting, especially Rodger Jackson as Prospero, was first class. I loved Ryan Gorman as poor, bad Caliban and Erica Delbury as Prospero’s daughter Miranda. The entire cast deserves commendation.
So… South Jersey residents don’t need to leave home to enjoy good theater. And this probably applies to anyone who lives within striking distance of a college or university with a drama department. Support your local thespians! And remember the Bard.