The Tempest OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Jill Jones
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    July 3, 2015
    Closing:
    July 26, 2015

    Theater: Richard Rodgers Amphitheater / 123rd Street at Mt. Morris Park West, between Fifth Ave and Malcolm X Blvd

    Synopsis: 

    "The Tempest" is a theatrical “gumbo”, with an intricate blend of usurping villains, youthful romance, music, magic, humor, and conspiracy. In this play, Shakespeare gives us such iconic characters as Ariel, Caliban, and our protagonist Prospero, whose quest for justice leads him to become unjust himself. Prospero’s magical island could be anywhere. CTH’s production references the enchanting island of Hispaniola, the island that is home to both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The history of Haiti is nothing short of magical: this tiny Caribbean country won its independence by defeating three European superpowers: France, Britain, and Spain, demonstrating the same fighting spirit found in Caliban, and the same longing for freedom as Ariel. "The Tempest" highlights the dynamics of freedom and captivity, imprisonment and rebellion, authority and tyranny.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Tempest

    ‘The Tempest’ Brings Music and Spirits to Marcus Garvey Park

    Laura Collins-Hughes

    July 7, 2015: He cuts quite a figure, this sorcerer-duke: the seaweed cape flowing from his shoulders, the ram’s-head staff he carries. But it’s the straw top hat, adorned with a tiny skull and tied festively with dried grass, that makes Ron Cephas Jones’s lonely Prospero look island magnificent. In Classical Theater of Harlem’s “The Tempest,” Hispaniola — the island that Haiti and the Dominican Republic share — is the place Prospero has ruled by magic since he and his daughter, Miranda, washed up there. All shimmery crags on a bed of deepest blue, the island has spirits in abundance, foremost one tricksy Ariel (a fine Fedna Jacquet), in streaming white and gold (the costumes are by Rachel Dozier-Ezell). Directed by Carl Cofield and staged outdoors on a steeply raked set (designed by the twins Christopher and Justin Swader) at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park, this is a beautiful yet uneven production, parts of which just don’t work. But it’s ambitious; studded with bits of French, Spanish and Creole; and enlivened by music and a smattering of dance (choreographed by Byron Easley) that will make you wish for more. What’s good in it — including Mr. Jones’s understated, ultimately moving Prospero and Carl Hendrick Louis’s angry, tenacious Caliban — is enough to make it an energizing experience on a balmy summer night.

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