Seen on (a very small) stage: Shakespeare in a cabaret space.
Artemis and the Wild Things presented The Tempest at the Duplex, a bar in the West Village with a cabaret theatre on the second floor. For $10 and a two-drink minimum, one could watch a Shakespeare play in air-conditioned comfort in two hours (rather than sweltering in Central Park all day hoping in vain for a ticket).
Costumes were designed by Shana Luther, who works at Parsons-Meares costume shop and designed for the New York Renaissance Faire for three years. (Actually, she designed only a few of the costumes for this show. In the great Off Off Broadway tradition, some of the costumes were provided by the actors themselves from their own closets.) This is the first time Luther has worked with Artemis.
Prospero was dressed in plain muslin shirt and pants as befits a castaway, but he did have a reversible cape appliqued with magical-looking symbols on one side and a subtly shimmering gold on the other. His daughter Miranda wore a dress of pale beige leaf-print semi-sheer fabric. Caliban's costume was the most fanciful: leggings and jacket made of material that was actually scraps of many different colored and patterned fabrics stitched together for a shaggy, almost leafy look. "It was very time-consuming," Luther says, "but it turned out great." It must be said that the actor, Marshall "Dancing Elk" Lucas, really sank his teeth into the character of Caliban, hunching over and speaking with a mournfully twisted mouth, yet still enunciating clearly.
Lighting for the production was by Duplex resident LD Tom Honeck. The first scene, which is the storm and shipwreck, had blue backlight with some high red sidelight and strobe flashes for lightning. For most of the rest of the play, the cyc had foliage patterns in pink, green, and blue. The backlight was a combination of blue and the standard cabaret hot pink. Ariel's scenes were highlighted with a spinning mirror ball casting green and yellow sparkles on the walls.
One thing I would have liked to have seen was maybe some kind of faux rock formation to cover the baby grand piano (which hogged nearly half the already small stage) and to give the actors something to hide behind in the eavesdropping scenes. But then, what's willing suspension of disbelief for?
The Tempest played at the Duplex through Saturday, August 18. Artemis and the Wild Things' next production will be Antony and Cleopatra, October 3-14 at the Jan Hus Playhouse at 351 East 74th Street. Shana Luther will again design costumes.
Amy L. Slingerland
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