The Arts

Theater Review: Talent overflows in ‘Tales and Tempests’

The cast of "Shakespeare: Tales & Tempests" presented by Northeast Stage. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)
The cast of “Shakespeare: Tales & Tempests” presented by Northeast Stage. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Something wonderful is growing in Greenport! Northeast Stage, now 30 years old, has been quietly building a body of exceptional work, presenting both classic and modern plays in the Holy Trinity Church hall during the winter and free Shakespearean performances in Greenport’s Mitchell Park in the summer. All are produced by Amie Sponza.

This weekend and next, the group is offering an unusual evening entitled “Tales and Tempests,” featuring characters from Shakespeare’s late plays. It is a romp and like nothing you’ve seen before.

The concept of the production and its stunning execution spring full-blown from the fertile, clever, brave imaginative powers of A.D. Newcomer. She even sets us up to feel smugly superior as we recognize the sudden representation of Shakespeare’s famous stage direction: “Exit, pursued by a bear”!

From the very first moment when Prospero (Steve Buchanan), through sheer theater magic, creates the tempest of the play’s title and allows us to join in, the audience is enchanted, mesmerized and enraptured by this unusual exotic experience.

Many a Broadway musical comedy would be envious of the hilarity caused by Sarah Wilson and Mr. Buchanan as “The Two Noble Kinsmen.” Their farcical fencing match or when are handcuffed together are the stuff of laugh-out-loud comedy.

The musical numbers surprise and delight us like the appearance of the first spring daffodils, especially the lovely original song “Full Fathoms Five” by George Cork Maul.

Perdita (Cate Clifford) in “The Winter’s Tale” easily and gently moves us to tears, as does Katharine (Ms. Newcomer) pleading with Henry VIII for her life and love.

Ariel (Ms. Wilson) seems to fly before our eyes in “The Tempest” and Ms. Wilson’s speech as she cradles the baby who will one day become the powerful Queen Elizabeth I makes us catch our breath with wonder.

Kevin Monsell is typical of this company’s ability to construct various and multifaceted characters — narrator, villain, prince, servant, singer, buffoon — all at the drop of a hat and believable. An announcement told us Tyler Cacace was making his stage debut and all we can say is he seems to have found a place where he belongs if he so desires.

The eminent teacher and actress Stella Adler wrote: “You don’t have to be an intellectual to do Shakespeare. You just have to speak precisely and have good teeth.” Have you ever said “in a pickle” (that’s from “The Tempest”) or “it sets my teeth on edge” (“The Winter’s Tale) or “I have not slept a wink” (“Cymbeline”) or “For goodness’ sake, consider what you do (that’s from “Henry VIII”)?

We on the North Fork are blessed with talent. When you visit and enjoy this original and imaginative production, you will feel you have discovered gold in your back yard.


‘Shakespeare: Tales and Tempests’
Presented by Northeast Stage at Holy Trinity Church, 768 Main St., Greenport. Performances continue at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 21 and 22, and at 5 p.m. Sunday, March 23.
Tickets $15, available at 631-208-6933, or at the door.