Where the Wild Things Are

A haunting mix of Indonesian music and Shakespearean mystery

If there's any single element that conveys the realm of the unreal in The Tempest, it's the music. The play has long been considered Shakespeare's most musical work -- the coupling of song, music, masque, and dance with lyrical poetry is what gives its enchanted-island setting that ethereal quality. Balinese musician I Made Terip's original gamelan score -- featuring metallophones (tuned metal bars struck with a mallet), chimes, gongs, drums, flutes, stringed instruments, and a voice -- envelops the story. Many characters and scenes have special musical themes. The debauched shipmates Stephano and Trinculo, for instance, are accompanied around the island by rollicking, syncopated sequences that capture the characters' drunken mood. The spirit Ariel, a Trickster-ish, monkey-shaped shadow, is associated with a high-pitched melody and what seems to be the noise of a quacking duck. In the absence of some of Shakespeare's most gorgeous poetic sequences -- Reed's contraction of the three-hour-long text into some 70 minutes keeps the story rolling along, but does so, unfortunately, at the expense of lyricism -- the atonal and mystical sounds of the gamelan ensemble must convey the play's emotional core.

Ooooh, Spooky: Monsters and magic in a 
ShadowLight production of A (Balinese) 
Tempest.
Ooooh, Spooky: Monsters and magic in a ShadowLight production of A (Balinese) Tempest.

Details

Music by I Made Terip

Through Oct. 23

Tickets are $15-20

345-7575

www.s hadowlight.org

Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina & Buchanan, S.F.

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The "Balinese" in A (Balinese) Tempestis in parentheses, I guess, because this production is more inspired by Balinese culture than faithful to its performance styles. (For anyone looking for a taste of traditional Indonesian theater, the first week of the "Gathering" featured plenty of that.) Such inspiration is a ShadowLight hallmark: From The Mahabharata to "Kubla Khan," the company has drawn on numerous sources for its piquant blend of Southeast Asian and Western theatrical traditions. Perhaps it's time to venture beyond the well-worn path trodden by gamelan Tempests into the realm of gamelan As You Like Its, Cymbelines, and Macbeths.

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