By Holli Harms
Diverse, athletic, star-touched pranksters and magicians. This is the Mobile Unit’s cast for The Tempest. Taking the journey with them is a free-falling rollercoaster ride that will leave you smiling from ear to ear and looking forward to running back to get in line and do the ride again. This is Shakespeare as he intended; bawdy, wild, fun for the masses.
Upon entering the theatre the cast is there milling about chatting with the audience. It’s as if you have entered the beginning of a really great party where you know the hosts are going to make sure you have the best of times.
The Tempest is set on a remote island off the coast of Italy. The Island is inhabited by the banished Duke of Milan, Prospero (Myra Lucretia Taylor), and her 15-year-old daughter Miranda (Sam Morales) and two servants/slaves, the “monster” Caliban (Christopher Ryan Grant) and the spirit Ariel (Danaya Esperanza). Prospero is written as Miranda’s father, but here, Prospero is her mother, and Myra Lucretia Taylor as Prospero is a sorceress out for vengeance on those who banished her, but also a mother who has compassion for her child and eventually finds forgiveness for those who wronged her. Though vengeance is her driving force it does not ruin her, she is able to rise above that baser instinct. But for a while here on this Remote Island Prospero plays the part of God, parent, and sage caught up in her own world of books and knowledge. So she conjures a tempest that shipwrecks her brother Antonio (Dan Domingues) who usurped her of her title, and her once friend Alonso, the King of Naples (J.D. Webster) who conspired with Antonio. Also on the ship, Alonso’s son, Ferdinand (Jasai Chase-Owens), his jester, Trinculo (Reza Salazar), butler, Stephano (Domingues) and advisor (Nancy Rodriguez).
Havoc is thrust on the shipwrecked in the form of Ariel. In Danaya’s portrayal of this sprite, you believe she has been created from spirit substance as she does not move so much as flutter like one made of the sea, the air, the nook of a mountain.
There are hilarious drunken scenes with Trinculo, Stephano, and Caliban. The three of them are the 3 Stooges reincarnated and spruced up to this century. My face hurt from laughing so much.
Having Prospero played by a woman imparts greater credence to Miranda’s surprise at seeing Ferdinand for the first time and remarking on the beauty of such a creature as man. The only other male she has ever seen is Caliban, and he is nothing like the handsome being standing before her. Chase-Owens and Morales play the lovers with all the wonderful clumsy hormonal surge of youth.
Grant’s portrayal of Caliban is not as a monster, but a lost boy who thought Prospero loved him, “You taught me language.” He is sympathetic and touching, a child looking for a parent, someone to guide him.
The play asks, Who do we follow? Who are our Gods? And when we want to be God ourselves, how much of our humanity do we lose? Servants, slaves, children, parents, power, it’s all here.
The Mobile Unit’s The Tempest, in a limited run at The Public, is FREE*; so get your best friend or your favorite child and head down to the theatre and buckle yourself into the coaster, grab the lap bar and take off.
THE MOBILE UNIT’S THE TEMPEST Written By William Shakespeare, Directed by Laurie Woolery
With: Jasai Chase-Owens (Ferdinand/Ensemble), Dan Domingues (Antonio/Stephano/Ancestor/Ensemble), Danaya Esperanza (Crew 1/Ariel), Christopher Ryan Grant (Boatswain/Caliban/Ensemble), Sam Morales (Crew 2/Miranda/Ensemble), Nancy Rodriguez (Gonzalo/Ancestor/Ensemble), Reza Salazar (Sebastian/Trinculo), Myra Lucretia Taylor (Prospero), and J.D. Webster (Alonso/Ancestor/Ensemble)
Production: scenic design by Claire DeLiso, costume design by Wilberth Gonzalez, music composition by Michelle J. Rodriguez, movement direction by Christopher Windom, Production Stage Manager Jannelle Caso, Stage Manager Katie Kennedy
* Furthering the mission of making great theater accessible to all, tickets to the MOBILE UNIT’s run at The Public are FREE and are available via TodayTix digital lottery and in-person distribution downtown at The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street at Astor Place.
* On each public performance date, free tickets will be distributed in-person beginning 90 minutes prior to curtain, and via digital lottery on the TodayTix app and website at TodayTix.com.
Visit The Public Theatre for more information. The performance schedule at The Public will be Tuesday through Sunday at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (There are no performances at 1:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, and no performance at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 19. There is an added performance on Wednesday, May 15 at 1:00
Runs through Sunday, May 19
Running Time: 90 Minutes no intermission