Inventive Shakespeare in Raleigh with (Three Man) Tempest | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

Inventive Shakespeare in Raleigh with (Three Man) Tempest 

Randolph Curtis Rand with Antonio the tyrannosaurus skull

Photo by Right Image Photography

Randolph Curtis Rand with Antonio the tyrannosaurus skull

Two new theatrical enterprises that opened last weekend have the faintest air of a barroom bet: "I can depict a historic shift in the racial hatreds that divide a Southern city ... with four actors. "Well, I can stage Shakespeare's Tempest with three!"

But The Best of Enemies and (Three Man) Tempest, two daring experiments in dramatic minimalism that bowed last week, both rely on hidden resources that enlarge the cast of characters we see on stage.

Economic constraints—and artistic genius—have given the region notable exhibitions along these lines before. The Patrick Stewart-founded Actors From the London Stage (which was headquartered at UNC-Chapel Hill during the 1990s) repeatedly astonished audiences with touring versions of Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest—each performed by a cast of five. And many will recall Tiny Ninja Theater's visits to Manbites Dog Theater, solo shows in which Dov Weinstein manipulated a phalanx of plastic 25-cent-machine dolls across ironing boards and music stands, through improbable adaptations of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.

(Three Man) Tempest seems an unlikely combination of the two. Randolph Curtis Rand usually manages a bit of theatrical time travel in most of his productions. Here, the historical costume and staging conventions he tweaks include an altered proscenium stage and the all-but-pantomimed representations of two villains at midshow.

But the main form of theater that Rand takes his audiences back to here is one that almost all of us indulged in during early childhood. Daniel Winters' dimmed, bare electric lightbulbs suggest a seldom-visited repository for discarded books and toys and dreams in some attic. And any girl or boy who ever literally voiced his or her wildest aspirations and fears through dolls or action figures as a 4-, 5- or 6-year-old is likely to feel the flashback through parts of this intermissionless 100-minute show.

At the outset, Rand intones instructions spliced into the text from Timothy Leary's 1964 version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. "You are now in the magic theatre of heroes and demons ... do not be afraid of them ... recognize the figures as aspects of yourself."

And frequently in this production, such figures are literally that: a random series of toys, dolls and figurines pressed into service as supporting characters manipulated by Rand, Adam Patterson and the one-named Carter in the principal roles of Prospero, Miranda and Caliban. (Our favorite? A toy tyrannosaurus skull that stands for Antonio, Prospero's devious brother.) The troika evinces no small amount of ingenuity threading through various adaptation and staging dilemmas posed by such a low-budget aesthetic.

But hubris appears when they take an already daunting challenge even further, using just one actor to stage entire scenes. Doll play initially as amusing and ribald as this drags when the first exchanges among Carter's Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano drags when extended too long.

In the spiritual realm, the nonattachment Leary advocated indicates transcendence. But in theater, nonattachment usually signals that a device or technique is no longer working. Examples of both occur here in an imaginative production that occasionally presses its luck a bit too far.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Fantastic journeys."

Related Locations


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater

Twitter Activity


Several remarkable songs, too, including Huldy's exuberantly hilarious "murder ballad" that brings down the house.

by chuck02 on The Moors Trains the Devices of the Brontë Sisters' Novels on a Toothsome Critique of Gothic Romance (Theater)

Most Recent Comments

Several remarkable songs, too, including Huldy's exuberantly hilarious "murder ballad" that brings down the house.

by chuck02 on The Moors Trains the Devices of the Brontë Sisters' Novels on a Toothsome Critique of Gothic Romance (Theater)

What a well written article! You really got this project, a great read!

by Jude Casseday on Stephanie Leathers’s Stalwart SITES Series Is a Performance-Art Map of Durham Development (Theater)

This looks wonderful! I cant wait until it goes on the road so we can see it in California!

by Michelle Nogales on Pioneering African-American Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler’s Empathy and Foresight Take the Stage in Parable of the Sower (Theater)

Spelling error for one of the owners of RRE: it's Rebekah Carmichael, not Rachel Carmichael. Also, the shows run between …

by J Robert Raines on Raleigh Room Escapes Slips Through the Keyhole Between Room-Escape Games and Immersive Theater (Theater)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation