The Tempest

Traditionally considered to be Shakespeare's last play and his parting statement to the theater, this mystical-minded romance is concerned with the intricacies of what it means to be a family. Director John LeFan and his motley cast of actors and dancers have the feel of a loose-knit clan. They turn the Mariposa Studio into an inviting home that captures the elements and accentuates the themes of this beautiful fantasia. The moment you enter the studio, you're enveloped in the sensual world of a sea-faring vessel caught in a storm. The ensemble uses voice and dancelike movement to illustrate the scene, and it works brilliantly. It's fun to watch a group of theater artists committed to listening to each other and finding sympathetic movement that supports a great playwright's ideas. The multitalented Theron Shaw is a stroke of casting genius as Ariel, bringing to the role an appealing otherworldly quality. Leon Setti as Gonzalo, an honest old counselor, has a grounded presence and a gift for speaking the verse in an accessible, conversational tone. Some of the other actors aren't quite so successful; unfortunately, Bob Taxin simply isn't up for the challenge of playing Prospero, one of Shakespeare's most majestic roles, and it leaves a hole in the evening's entertainment. At two hours and 20 minutes with no intermission, the play feels long, but when the actors' moves, the director's vision, and the writer's poetry align, this production gives us moments of real magic. Frank Wortham

Details

Through Oct 7

Tickets are $15-30; call 861-4330 or visit www.johnlefan.org.

Mariposa Studio, 2808 Mariposa (at Florida), S.F.

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