January 27, 2012 – We have discussed already the cacophonic introduction – the echoing tympany drums and the strobe lights with wind machines and jostling masts evoking the image of a great storm as conjured up by the vindictive castaway-magician, Prospero. The production staff has to be congratulated for putting on a wild, tumultuous scene with what money it had. Even the mis en scene, a rocky island in the Mediterranean, exhibited faux-rocky crags upon which Sarah Switanowski (playing the spirit Ariel) could lithely disport, jumping limberly up and down and, by implication, across vast spaces and time to do Prospero’s bidding. Ms. Switanowski is clearly trained in gymnastics or dance because her movements were terpsichoricly refined giving the audience a visually credible demonstration of Ariel’s powers.
All four of us were impressed with the actor who portrayed the monster Caliban: Mike McGettigan.
In this photo, you can see Prospero (Patrick Loos) and his daughter, Miranda, (played by Katie Terpstra), confabulating about their island and fate
The character of Caliban, churlish, mean and lustful, was well showcased by Mr. McGettigan who had the appropriate girth, bright, fiery eyes and concupiscently wolfish grin. During the drunken scene, awash in rum, he radiated his beast-like qualities, malodorous like a swamp possum, dishevelled and feral, with no sense of shame. In an earlier scene, remonstrating with Prospero, the man who usurped the island from him and his sorceress mother, he declares to him that he would have populated the island if he could get his hands of the lovely, naive Miranda.
One of the odd asides in this tale of the Park Bar Theatre is when we visited the location some weeks ahead to investigate the premises and learn about the acting troupe. As we sat down for some dinner and drinks, I chanced to approach the bartender whose name was irrelevant to me at the time. When I asked him about the play, he cheerfully told me that he was playing the role of Trinculo (the court fool) and disclosed that the troupe was comprised of people who knew each other very well and worked together regularly. The bartender was Chris Korte who had won the Wilde award. I assume that the award had something to do with Oscar Wilde.
Ms. Terpstra was okay as Miranda, although my own imagined character had more flesh to her. In truth, Ms.Terpstra was better suited for the role of Ophelia, being somewhat waif-like, frail and pallid. But she conveyed the naivete of Miranda just fine if that was the objective. She, like all the actors, though, suffered from the lack of linguistic authenticity. She could have tried, for example, to put on a slightly British accent – not wholly Oxonian, but perhaps Connecticuttian. It would have made a difference to me listening and might have forced her to enunciate more clearly.
Mr. Patrick Loos who played Prospero holds a degree in the fine arts from WSU and is obviously
a reliable performer. He seemed a bit wooden during our time at the theatre and that might have been due to the fact that we were watching the play on its penultimate night. A bit more verve would have gone a long way toward establishing Prospero as a magician.
All in all, the actors trained hard for the roles they played. I was delighted to learn that some were affiliated with the Abreact Theatre whose production last year of Becket’s “Waiting for Godot” had me and Mark the Brit full of encomia, desperately waiting for this years new production of ” Endgame” in the Spring. Shakespeare is hard to present. That an amateur troupe like this would venture to do it is testament to their ambition and devotion to the craft. While I have some complaints, the important was that I was glad to have sat through it and would do so again if they promised to make their accents slightly more genuine.