A wall and words are all you need to put on a show. Boise Bard Players, a gorilla tribe of actors used to putting up Shakespearean epics in the backrooms of breweries have stepped out into the sun, into JUMP’s Amphitheater, to put on The Tempest.
Neatly cut but a trifle speedy in its delivery, the Boise Bard Tempest rollicks and kicks its way from first to last. Its verse is sharp and director Chris Canfield’s staging ripe with laughter. It packs in gags and gambles while keeping, amid all its buoyancy, the dark kernel that makes the play so enticing. Prospero (Dakotah Brown) and Ariel (Jeni Montzka) orchestrate high-jinx among tragedians, lovers, and fools while wrestling for control of Prospero’s magic staff (the idea of Arial is tied to very wood, and makes it tremble and jump in their masters hands, is an example of the marvelously simple conceit, that makes the production such fine Shakespeare).
A nice touch is Miranda (Zoe Carr) and Ferdinand (Davey Collins) who ditch the traditional interpretation of innocent Inamorata, and present a pair of two reedy kids over their heels in each other, aching in every part (and such adorable, laudable dweebs they are: the moment I loved this production was the instant Carr turned away to snicker over her father’s description of the “butt” they came ashore in). Collins lives well in the text, Ferdinand’s awkwardness tussling inside him like a sack full of kittens, clawing their way into the air, clearly and endearingly. Equally clear, though counterpoint in coolness, is Stephano (Josh Rippy) and Trinculo (Tiara Thompson), the first of who amiably cavorts with a drunken mastery, taking all the time in the world yet still hitting the jests over the back wall every time, while Thompson jogs slope-shoulderdly around him, skulking and fanning and jibbing with excellent wit.
It’s a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously (building in many a snide swipe) but at the same time treats its tale with respect and admiration. The darkness and the joy, the romance and the majesty all make their appearance set in front of a rough-hewn wall and in the shape of well-delivered verse. It was a stellar time, to laugh, and be transported. Speaking for my own part, The Tempest has a way of leaving a mark with me, a show that continues to remind me of the joys and power of the stage. I’m happy to set this rendition of Tempests that bedim the noontide sun, call forth the mutinous winds, and between the green grass and azure vault set roaring war.
Originally posted on Facebook by Ben Kemper. Ben is a local actor and storyteller in Boise, Idaho.