DC at Night

DC at Night

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Synetic Stages a Splashingly Good Tempest

Synetic's wet world of The Tempest
Wondrously wet and wild. Now that might seem an odd phrase to describe a classic Shakespeare play, but it is perfectly apt for Synetic Theater's visually stunning new version of The Tempest, a marvelously acted silent production staged entirely in a pool of water.

In the director's notes for the play, Paata Tsikurishvili explains the decision to let the actors slip, slide, and splash through water as they wordlessly tell the story of the wizard Prospero and his fantastical island filled with unforgettable images of  magic, mystery, love, revenge, and redemption.

"For me, water has all the versatility appropriate to Prospero's island story: the potential for hilarious silliness, combined with sadness, mystery, danger, and most of all, a quality of literal and figurative reflectiveness," Tsikurishvili says.

The sets, musical score, and staging work perfectly to create what is clearly one of the award-winning Synetic's strongest efforts ever. All the acting performances are commendable, but as might be expected by those familiar with the play, a wordless version allows 3 characters to truly stand out - the drunken buffoon Stephano,  the tragic monstrosity Caliban, and, most especially, the loyal spirit Ariel (an other worldly costumed mix of silver Ozian flying monkey and David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust period), played respectively by Synetic stalwarts Irakli Kavsadze, Vato Tsikurishvili, and Dan Istrate.
Stephano tackles his bottle
The monstrous Caliban mourns his dead mother

Ariel receives support from Prospero
As always with their silent Shakespeare adaptations, the Synetic actors use a mix of dance, mime, physical actions, props, lighting, music, and still and moving images to successfully convey both plot and theme. "Since our first silent production in 2002, I have often been asked, without the language, is what we do really Shakespeare," Tsikurishvili says in his play notes. "I believe it is. Shakespeare has been translated into multiple languages. We believe the language of movement is a no less valid method of exploring  his work than any other. As Shakespeare himself painted with words, we attempt to paint his words with our images, offering an archetypal Shakespeare that we know, as one reviewer put it, 'in our bones.'"

I agree. And I'm equally certain that this latest production will leave you speechless with awe and admiration for what you have just witnessed. Oh, and by the way, if you're worried about your theater-going attire, if you sit in the front rows you will be given rain gear. Trust me, take it. You'll need it.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
The Tempest is running  at the Synetic's Crystal City Underground (which, so fortunately for us, is really an extension of our Crystal Plaza Apartments basement) theater until March 24. You really don't want to miss this unique production. But if you need a little more convincing here is what DC Theater Scene had to say about the staging.  And here is a by-the-numbers account of the water involved from The Washington Post. Finally, here is the visual trailer for the play. (If you are receiving this post by email, just click here to view the trailer.)

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