“Tempest Redux” reimagines one of Shakespeare’s most beloved and complex plays, now onstage at The Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles. John Farmanesh-Bocca, who ran Shakespeare Santa Monica for 10 years (staging the Bard’s classics on a municipal tennis court), is the director and choreographer of this reconstructed rendition of “The Tempest.”
Creatively condensing the intricate tale into a tight 90-minute one-act, it explores magic, man’s nature and morality and pits imagination against reality with a truly unique twist. Do not take your eyes off Prospero for a single second as the play reaches its conclusion. It’s a revelatory moment that will make you consider this play in an all-new light.
The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble collaborates with The New American Theatre, whose founder Jack Stehlin (DEA captain Roy Till on the Showtime series “Weeds”) is the be-robed and believable Prospero. Seven actors and three dancers play multiple roles and dual sides of characters’ personalities.
Usurped as Duke of Milan by his own brother and cast away on a rickety ship with his infant daughter, Prospero, who is deep into the magical arts, is cast away on a remote island that boasts a witch, whom he defeats with magic, her son, the monster Caliban, and the gentle spirit Ariel, both of whom Prospero enslaves.
A tripartite Ariel is depicted by Shea Donovan, Briana Price and Emily Yetter, three dancers in painted faces and diaphanous demi-gowns. Caliban is portrayed by Willem Long and Dash Pepin (who are also cast in dual roles as Sebastian and Francisco), clambering over and around each another to become a two-headed creature.
Betrayal and bedazzlement abound. Prospero conjures a storm to right the wrongs done to him. Cast ashore are his manipulative brother Antonio (Dennis Gersten who doubles as Trinculo) and the King of Naples (Gildart Jackson, playing triple roles) who was deceived by Antonio. Also on the boat is the King’s son Ferdinand (Charles Hunter Paul) who will marry Prospero’s beloved daughter, Miranda (Mimi Davila).
The highly physical and intriguingly choreographed action includes rewinds and replays by the actors, magical machinations by Prospero, a mutinous plot to overthrow the King, aided by Caliban’s murderous instinct for revenge, and the ultimate romance between Miranda and Ferdinand.
There’s a lot happening in a very short time, and as it concludes, you’ll feel you’ve been through an actual tempest of acting, dancing, storytelling and a new vision of a very old work, enlivened by contemporary artists.
“Tempest Redux” takes place Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through April 1; visit http://www.odysseytheatre.com or call the box office at (310) 477-2055. The multi-theatre complex is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. in West L.A.
The harp as architecture
String Theory is an L.A.-based performance ensemble and rock band whose multimedia performances feature not just dance and visual effects but large scale invented instruments that transform spaces into aural architecture, creating giant musical instruments whose strings run hundreds of feet.
In a year when El Nino has failed to materialize here, String Theory presents “Remembering Water,” which they performed at the 2015 Emmy Awards show and have been playing to sold out audiences ever since.
This 70-minute multimedia performance features new invented instruments such as their Harness Harps and the FIN Harp, and is loosely inspired by the photographs of Robert ParkeHarrison’s book, “The Architect’s Brother,” a sepia-toned surrealist vision of objects and landscapes.
String Theory appears at the beautiful historic Miles Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., March 11-13, March 18 – 20, March 24 – 27. Get tickets fast; it’s an intimate venue with limited seating, and these events have previously sold out. Visit http://stringtheoryproductions.bpt.me.
Strings I’m attached to
I’ve written in this space before about the angelic and transporting guitar styling and fretwork of Pierre Bensusan, the internationally regaled French-Algerian acoustic guitarist, singer and composer.
Prepare to be carried away by his music. He’s back at McCabe’s Guitar Shop on March 5, part of his 2016 North American tour.
Called the “Mozart of Guitar,” Bensusan is celebrating a 36-year association with his longtime guitar-maker Lowden Guitars, his recent Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ards International Guitar Festival in Ireland, and his Best “Live Performance Album” award at the Independent Music Awards, for “Encore,” his 3-CD set celebrating his 40 years as a globetrotting concert performer.
Buy tickets at the door if there are any left by this Saturday, or guarantee your seat in advance at http://store.mccabes.com/home.php?cat=249.
Noted Southern California poet Brian Michael Tracy will preview his upcoming “rock poetry” album, “The Mystical Prism of Being,” at Venice’s church of the spoken word arts, Beyond Baroque on Saturday, March 5 at 4 p.m.
It’s a fundraiser for this venerable non-profit literary space. Tracy is joined by noted musician (and Bruce Springsteen collaborator) Marty Rifkin, Andy Hill (Title Trackers, Hard Rain), and Renee Safier (Andy & Renee, Hard Rain), and up-and-comer Edoardo Tancredi. Tickets for the event are $25 in advance at, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-mystical-prism-of-being-a-fundraiser-for-beyond-baroque-tickets-21285123377, or $30 at the door.
“The Mystical Prism of Being” combines Tracy’s poetry with the musical talents of producer Rifkin, and South Bay music stalwarts Hill and Safier, performing a selection of beloved rock ballads interwoven with the poems.
With three 13- to 17-minute tracks, “A Virgin Birth,” “Our Last Supper,” and “Ascension,” the album is appropriately set for release on Good Friday, March 25.