NSR's The Tempest Review

Notre Dame’s Not-So-Royal Shakespeare Company presented The Tempest in Washington Hall last week. Their shows are sometimes delightful, sometimes creepy, and always phenomenal.

The Tempest took a slightly more traditional approach to the play than they have in the past, but they made the show really click for me. As seen in a few other of Shakespeare’s works, magic comes to the forefront. Ariel and the three Qualities were so well done, and actually made logical sense in all their magical strangeness. It is a real work of art to smoothly integrate four actors into scenes that are conversations between two beings. It could be easy to lose the story or the smoothness of the pace, but NSR did a fantastic job.


NSR never fails to deliver on the comedy and commentary, and Trinculo and Stephano’s lived up to their standard. The bawdy humor was a great balance to some of the darker political drama, and the centuries old jokes were performed to great laughter even now. The comedy of Shakespeare’s most hasty romance, that of Ferdinand and Miranda, was clearly displayed through the physicality of the romantic leads and by the slightly annoyed Prospero. With an even quicker timeline from meeting to matrimony than Romeo and Juliet, Ferdinand and Miranda rank pretty low on a scale of rational decision making. They do get the joyous happy ending, so all can be forgotten and forgiven. The drama of their romantic scenes was the purest fun of the show, in the same way that laughing at the stories of your friends doing something dumb is hilarious.


The crew also managed to transform Washington Hall’s black box theater into a magical place. The poles that might block a bit of the action were covered in Prospero’s magical symbols, and I presume some inside jokes for the cast. The floor had circles, lines, and runes framing the action, and helped convey the mystical parts of Prospero’s character that in other productions can seem underwhelming. With simple sets, the focus stayed on the dramatics of the show and talent of the actors.


It was a phenomenal play, and my only disappointment is that graduation prevents me from seeing NSR’s 2018-2019 performances.

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