AC theatre production tosses and turns; stage design, actors cause distractions for viewer

the tempest

By RAFAEL FLORES, Staff Reporter |

William Shakespeare’s work is known for its multiple adaptations, flowery language, intricate set designs and colorful costumes. Although Amarillo College’s adaptation of the play of  “The Tempest” did its best, the overall production had its perks but also its jerks. Overall the play was exciting, but the staging did not work for me.

The play featured a group of actors who portrayed their roles enthusiastically, most notably in the roles of the sorcerer, Prospero, played by Darrianna Ferguson, and the wacky spirit, Ariel, played by Taylor Pritchett. Both of them stood out because they delivered their lines exceptionally well. 

A female actor played Prospero rather than a male actor and Ariel displayed an array of eccentric energy. Pritchett jumped all over the circular stage and into the audience while clinging to the seating railings and yelling her lines. She was barefoot, too. Ariel was the most emotional character on the stage and the actress played her part well.

My issue with the play was the entire set up of theatre itself. The audience surrounded the stage on three sides, meaning that the audience was exposed to multiple angles of action. 

Now, it might seem sort of biased, but as someone accustomed to traditional proscenium seating, I thought it was weird that every time characters were supposed to be offstage, they never went backstage. Instead, they were still on stage but on the side, sitting on stools. I found this to be distracting. One actor told me it was a part of a Shakespearean method called “putting on a show,” a way of displaying the actor’s personality during the performance. Personally, it did not really help me focus on the play.

The set design was marvelous. It featured a wave painted blue. In addition, there was a wooden platform in the center of the stage that served several functions. These were the only two set pieces used throughout the show. The whole story does take place on an island; however, there could have been more creativity when switching from scene to scene. 

The most captivating scene in the whole play was at the beginning, during the shipwreck, which featured a dark blue backdrop with rumbling sounds of roaring waves, while the actors were tumbling around losing their balance. The actors displayed a great deal of urgency as they yelled their lines. 

The next production will be “Heathers: The Musical,” which opens April 26. 

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