Shakespeare & Perrone Bring on the Magic & the Clowns
by K. Marguerite Caronna
A picnic. The Berkeley Hills. Spreading oaks. Theater in the park. Inferno Theatre proudly offers a joyful production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” in the newly renovated John Hinkel Park Amphitheatre, kicking off the season for outdoor plays.
Adaptor, Director, Set and Costume Designer Giulio Cesare Perrone takes us on an enchanted journey to an island filled with “Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.” Perrone and Michael Needham have adapted Shakespeare’s romance into a digestible afternoon’s entertainment.
Prospero, the former Duke of Milan (Needham), and his toddler daughter Miranda, fled Prospero’s political enemies and are now cast away on a magical island. Seeking revenge twelve years later, Prospero conjures a storm with the help of his agile spirit servant Ariel (Mayou Roffé.)
That magical storm brings a shipwreck directly to Prospero’s island. And that ship carries his betrayers: crafty usurping brother Antonio (Andre Szarmach), plotting King of Naples Alonso (Tiffani Lisieux), and steadfast advisor Gonzalo (Casey Anderson). These fools are now the magician’s playthings on Prospero’s island.
Commanding Prospero casts spells to disorient and torment the survivors. Meanwhile, his athletic Native slave Caliban (Liddy Freeman) plots to escape from Prospero’s cruel control.
Prospero’s daughter Miranda (Julie Lamb), a naively compassionate soul, marvels when she first sees Alonso’s son, sweet Ferdinand (Canberk Varli). Miranda exclaims, “O brave new world that has such people in’t.” It’s love at first sight.
Perrone’s fantastical costumes blend with the outdoor woodland setting. Masks by Annie Hallatt enhance the presence of otherworldly spirits. The set of suspended canvas sheets evokes ship’s sails, a tossing sea. Oriental rugs create a lush patchwork of playable spaces.
The drunken and befuddled Stephano (Erica Flor) and drinking buddy Trinculo (Gioconda Mirra) provide wonderful comic relief. Banding together with the tortured Caliban, they humorously plot to take control of Prospero’s island.
Because the Elizabethan English linked music with magic, Prospero’s sorcery becomes credible through song. Music Director Roffé provides delicate, sinuous notes for the magical images in Shakespeare’s songs. Music becomes part of the seduction and the restoration of order.
Perrone ensures a lively physicality by having the talented ensemble create the movement. Their organic, charming choreography provides mesmerizing dances. And what’s Shakespeare without swordplay? Sword instructor Isaac Pryka coaches the shipwrecked nobility in brandishing their weapons gracefully.
“The Tempest” provides a satisfying mixture of vengeance, comedy, and love—ending with notes of resolution and hope. There is a lovely wedding after all!
Pair a bit ‘o the Bard with a picnic for a pleasant afternoon under the trees in John Hinkel Park. Fun for the family.
“The Tempest” by William Shakespeare, adapted, directed, and designed by Giulio Cesare Perrone, music directed by Mayou Roffé, by Inferno Theatre, at John Hinkel Park Amphitheatre, Berkeley, California 94707. Info: InfernoTheatre.org – to Sunday, June 11, 2023.
Shows at 4:00 PM. Admission is FREE.
Cast: Casey Anderson, Lauren Dunagan, Erica Flor, Liddy Freeman, Julie Lamb, Tiffani Lisieux, Gioconda Mirra, Michael Needham, Mayou Roffé, Andre Szarmach, and Canberk Varli.
Banner photo: Mayou Roffe’, Lauren Dunagan, Andre Szarmach, Tiffani Lisieux. Photos: Terry Sullivan