Clifton Duncan as Caliban in The Tempest, Shakespeare Theater Company, directed by Ethan McSweeny (photo by Scott Suchman)
Ethan McSweeney's production takes place on a sun-bleached spit of sand, littered with driftwood and wrecked boat pieces (sets by Lee Savage), with most of the color palette whitened to a nondescript quality (lighting by Christopher Akerlind, costumes by Jennifer Moeller). The Caliban of Clifton Duncan is not a monster at all, just a man with dark skin and a thick accent that turns the character's lines into a sort of tortured patois, suggesting the Gold Coast of Africa or the Caribbean. When he pops out of a hole in the sand, it looks quite like the other trapdoors that served as exits from the hold of the foundering ship in the opening storm scene, and he is chained to a rock. In a similar way, Sofia Jean Gomez's contralto-ish Ariel is tethered to Prospero by the homespun rope that flies her about the stage to delightful effect (provided by Stu Cox from ZFX, Inc.). Geraint Wyn Davies brings a pleasing mixture of rage, tenderness, guilt, and mystery to Prospero, guiding the feral Miranda of Rachel Mewbron into the arms of Ferdinand (the tall and earnest Avery Glymph), his enemy's son.
Peter Marks, Ethan McSweeny’s “Tempest” casts a bright, uplifting spell (Washington Post, December 10)
This production continues through January 11, at Sidney Harman Hall.