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Queens Chronicle

Titan storms the stage with a rarity from the Bard

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Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2018 10:30 am

Titan Theatre Co. continues its mission to breathe new life and clarity into classical works with its production of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” running through Nov. 11 at Queens Theatre.

Under the steadfast direction of the company’s Artistic Director Lenny Banovez, the play opens aboard a seemingly doomed ship at sea, as sights and sounds, along with tossed-about actors, converge during a powerfully staged depiction of the title inclemency.

The scene shifts effortlessly to a remote and nearly deserted island, where the remaining action will take place. And there is a great deal of action, to be sure, as this tale of magic and illusion, failed coups, murder plots and, yes, love at first sight, unfolds.

The central figure is Prospero (a powerful Terry Layman), a sorcerer and the rightful Duke of Milan, whose power had been usurped by his brother, Antonio, years before the play begins. It soon becomes clear that it is Prospero who conjured the storm, part of his plan to reclaim his proper place.

Layman, who previously played the title role in Titan’s production of “King Lear,” takes on another monumental assignment, offering insight into both sides of the character: He can be kind and generous but he also has a darker aspect, as evidenced in his contemptuous treatment of his servants.

As is true of most of Shakespeare’s plays, the plot becomes complicated and is best left to be experienced at the theater rather than summarized here. Suffice it to say that, being a romance, the play has a happy ending.

Along the way, however, numerous memorable characters are introduced. Among these is the sprite Ariel, in service to Prospero, who has uncanny superpowers.

While traditionally played as a male, the role is here brought to life by the resourceful Devri Chism, an actress who can say a lot with a simple tilt of her head. She is lithe, agile, mischievous and seemingly everywhere at once. And, when need be, she plays invisibility convincingly. Oh, she also sings on several occasions, quite pleasantly.

An even more physically demanding role is the deformed monster, Caliban, also servant to Prospero. He is played by Tristan Colton with large doses of brutality and sensitivity.

As the requisite young lovers, Ann Flanigan (Prospero’s naive and compassionate daughter, Miranda) and Brandon A. Wright (the equally naive Ferdinand) share one of the play’s loveliest and most romantic scenes.

Jester Trinculo (Kevin Stanfa) and drunken butler Stephano (Jake Russo) make fine comic foils.

Michael Selkirk embodies Prospero’s power-hungry brother, Antonio; T. Stacy Hicks is King Alonso, father of Ferdinand, who ultimately repents for the pain he has caused Prospero; Marcus Denard Johnson plays Alonso’s brother, the aggressive but cowardly Sebastian; and in another gender switch, Gonzalo, Alonso’s old counselor, is now Gonzala, a woman seemingly out of place though played with resolve by fine actress Ellen Fiske. Evan Wilberg puts in a brief appearance as the Boatswain, rounding out a unified company.

Kudos to James McCrory for the simple but utilitarian scenic design; Anthony Paul-Cavaretta for the evocative (and sometimes provocative) costumes; Emily Clarkson for an effective lighting scheme; Jessica McIlquham for a most complementary sound design; and the uncredited makeup artist who created Caliban’s look.

Once again, Titan has provided a production that will entertain all ages and might serve well for a child’s introduction to The Bard: It’s a streamlined (running two hours including intermission), action-filled rendering of a rarely produced classic.

‘The Tempest’
When: Thu.-Sat., Nov. 1-3 and 8-10, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 4 and 11, 4 p.m.
Where: Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Ave. South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Tickets: $20. (347) 738-5602,

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