Unseam'd Shakespeare's The Tempest, or The Enchanted Isle | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Unseam'd Shakespeare's The Tempest, or The Enchanted Isle

This Tempest is quick-moving if not so quick-witted.

There are two important things to remember when approaching Unseam'd Shakespeare Co.'s production of The Tempest, or The Enchanted Isle. First, this isn't Shakespeare, but Oregonian playwright Scott Palmer's 2011 adaptation of John Dryden and William D'Avenant's Restoration-era (1667) adaptation of the Bard's less successful 1610 version. (And nobody's sure where he stole, uh, adapted it from.)

The second thing to note is Unseam'd's unusual curtain time of 7:30 p.m., or you risk missing some of director Michael Hood's gaudy froth of a comedic matryoshka. Think: less serious than The Forbidden Planet.

In this version, the political and magical machinations of wizard Prospero (a staid Ron Siebert) yield center stage to the romantic doings and doodlings of an unlikely quartet of lovers, coyly played by Colleen Pulawski, Claire Chapelli, Nick Benninger and Nicholas Browne. The nonsense of the beauteous young lady who has never seen a man is doubled — nay tripled. Prospero's daughter Miranda now has an equally innocent sister, Dorinda, and both have blossomed into ripe maidenhood on the isle with Hippolito, the Youth who has never seen Woman. The dashing Ferdinand, he from the original Tempest, knows lots about men and women, and shares. Expect double entendres beyond the Bard.

The large cast, nattily dressed by costume designer Katherine Garlick, gaily prances through Gordon Phetteplace's cartoonish set pieces, led by Kevin Donohue's graceful Ariel. The buffoonish antics of the "rustics" get a spirited (pun intended) workout with Brett Sullivan Santry, Michael Perrotta and Charles Beikert. They cavort with Thomas Constantine Moore's piscine Caliban and his new sister, the apparently demoted Sycorax (the Bard's wicked sorceress), lustily portrayed by the gutsy Jennifer Tober. And let us not neglect the overdressed, if under-appreciated, scurrilous noblemen, Andrew Miller, Marc Epstein and Connor McCanlus.

Thanks to director Hood (who also staged the fights) and choreographer Joan E. Van Dyke, this Tempest is quick-moving if not so quick-witted, though the chuckles do overflow a teapot.

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