By Luke Dodge
Our introduction to this interpretation of Shakespeare's “The Tempest” is a humorous sea captain acting as a sort of a sailing ship flight attendant. To stage left we find a large wooden crate and a driftwood log to stage right. Blue aerial silks and a pair of shoes center stage are left for Miranda.
From the beginning Miranda (Genesee Spridco) interacts directly with the audience, or as she likes to think of us, her dream. Introducing herself on the silks, we find Miranda to be quite silly and childlike. “I would rather something happen than nothing,” she claims and begins to tell us her story. The characters converse in Shakespearean dialogue when not communicating directly to the “dreams.”
Miranda lives alone on an island with her father Prospero (Phil Howard) who works by day in his office library while Miranda playfully distracts him and disrupts his work. Unfortunately Miranda doesn’t know anything about her mother. Using an empty mask, she imagines what spending time with her would be like through dance. Music sets the tone well and beautifully carved wooden masks are used to denote characters. The expressiveness of Genesee’s face communicates more than words could.
Prospero tells the story of the witch Sycorax, former ruler of the island, and her son Caliban (Phil Howard), trapped under the island rocks. It takes a moment to realize the shadow on the wall is Caliban, not the actor in front of the light, but once you do the effect gives the impression of a large, trapped visage.
When a shipwrecked man shows up on the island, a lonely Miranda ogles the new man and he falls for her hard. His interaction with Miranda’s pointed and tactless approach to relationships is a delight and ends with a handshake proposal.
Sailors with mustache adorned masks are out to sea in a parallel storyline where the versatile use of the silks as props act as both the wind and the boat. The silks continue to play an important role as a prop and set piece. At one point Miranda takes shelter under them during a storm and later the spirit Ariel (Genesee Spridco) bursts out of them like a cacoon.
If all this seems a bit disjointed, you’re not alone. While last year’s KC Fringe hit “Take Flight” was in its fifth year of production, Miranda only debuted this week and is still a work in progress. It’s still absolutely worth watching to see Genesee and Phil clowning around.