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The Tempest at Accidental Shakespeare Company | Theater review

Accidental Shakespeare debuts with a solid Tempest.
By Aeneas Sagar Hemphill |

For its inaugural production, Accidental Shakespeare stages an “Alchemy Punk” Tempest. Coined by director Angeli Primlani, “Alchemy Punk” refers to the advent of scientific thought and exploration in the early 17th century, when The Tempest was written. Science and magic contained the same limitless (and, to some, terrifying) possibilities, Primlani suggests in a program note, and the divisions between them weren’t as clear as they are today. While this info brings some insight to the text, its contribution to Accidental’s production isn’t so clear.

Aesthetically, it’s The Tempest you’d expect: the abandoned-island setting, a shipwrecked crew in approximate 17th-century garb, effectively staged magic. It seems “Alchemy Punk” serves more to clarify the traditional setting than to transport us to a new one.

Still, the heart of the production is where it should be: its solid and capable ensemble. The actors are intimately connected to the text, bringing vitality and depth to every role. Christopher Aruffo, a captivating Prospero, never loses us, even in his most labyrinthine speeches. Andrew Mehegan’s Stefano and Gary Henderson’s Trinculo, wildly fueling and escalating each other’s silliness, highlight the group’s chemistry. This energetic Tempest, while not revelatory, is definitely fun, marking Accidental Shakespeare as a company to watch.

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