The final weeks of a presidential election are a good time to review the story of Shakespeare’s Prospero, one of the original spin doctors. His magic capabilities rival those of even the most well-funded super PAC. In Lit Moon’s fine new production of The Tempest, we see that, while a clever strategist such as Prospero may engineer even our perceptions, it remains up to us to decide whether or not we will give him our consent. Around Stan Hoffman’s fine and stately Prospero, director John Blondell has arranged an outstanding cast, placing them within Milon Kalis’s provocative production design and setting the action to Jim Connolly’s rousing musical score. Together these balanced elements of mise-en-scène make this a perfect Tempest for 2012. The show brims over with humor, resistance, and love — three healthy and powerful antidotes to the mystifications of propaganda.
As Ariel, Sara Jessica Reynolds shines, with or without her folk protest guitar. Michael Bernard and Matt Tavianini make great additions to the Lit Moon team, especially in their comic scenes as Trinculo and Stephano. Nolan Hamlin and Stephanie Farnum are delightful as the young lovers Ferdinand and Miranda; their chemistry is such that one can almost appreciate Prospero’s aggressively protective reaction. And, as in so many Lit Moon productions, it’s Victoria Finlayson’s intelligence and imagination in the dual roles of Antonio and Caliban that lights the creative fire at the heart of the story. By emphasizing Caliban’s humanity while staying true to Shakespeare’s complex and alien vision of him, she articulates the fundamental protest that underlies this most sophisticated of theatrical meditations on power and illusion.