Part of the Public Theater's free Shakespeare in the Park, Sam Waterston stars in 'The Tempest,' The Bard’s classic tale of young love, old enemies and the eternal magic of storytelling. More…
Exiled to a fantastical island, Prospero unleashes a churning storm to shipwreck the traitor brother who stole his throne so he can settle the score once and for all. But bitter revenge is upended by newfound love in this sublime masterpiece that proves we are all “such stuff as dreams are made on.”
"This 'Tempest' is always lovely to behold and often illuminating. Don’t expect the stormy passions that can move an audience to tearful wonder...Moments of captivating pageantry arrive often enough to distract you from this production’s lack of dramatic urgency...Caliban says at one point, 'sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.” That’s a pretty good description of the sum effect of this softly seductive production." Full Review
"To see 'The Tempest' acted under a night sky is like hearing 'The Messiah' sung in a cathedral. Whatever the flaws of the production, the sheer rightness of the setting usually makes them forgettable, or at least ignorable, and you come away thinking only of the work...I didn’t agree with all of Mr. Greif’s choices, but I was glad to go along with them, and by evening’s end my cavils felt picayune: Nothing mattered but the truth and beauty of the play itself." Full Review
"This 'Tempest' is notable for its delicacy and gentle whimsy, and for emphasizing the play's romantic spirit...The most memorable moments in this lovely, if subdued, 'Tempest' are played straight. When Waterston delivers the famous line, 'The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance,' his straightforward urgency is gripping. It's a quiet kind of magic, but potent nonetheless." Full Review
"The first of this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park productions is restrained and straight-to-the point, but there are moments of whimsy that give 'The Tempest' its boom, thunder and roar. Considering that this is a play with magic as a big theme, director Michael Greif has gone surprisingly straightforward and stylized...The theatrics lifted me enough that I wished there had been more." Full Review
"'The Tempest' is full of pleasures both auditory and visual. There is a fabulous supporting cast who turn into a chorus of heavenly sirens. There is a terrifying, winged monster created through simple set pieces and vocal manipulation. With just the subtlest of suggestions, Shakespeare’s mysterious, fantastical island comes to life." Full Review
"What resonates most here are Prospero’s relationships with his supernatural servitors and his startling choice to change revenge for forgiveness, oppression for liberty. The production finds strength in this clemency. That ought to be enough and yet it isn’t. Or maybe it is. When all the stories and characters at last combine there’s a deficiency of heft, pathos and alchemy...Even an imperfect 'Tempest' is reasonably enchanting." Full Review
"Greif opens his relatively straightforward production with a splendid storm of crashing thunder, flashing lightning, and sailors swinging precariously on ship rigging. It's a thrilling prologue to the events that follow...But the magic is lost in the final act, which glides the play into port so slowly that by the time wands are broken and harnesses removed, we're eager to get ashore." Full Review
"Though director Michael Greif’s production of The Tempest is pleasant enough, neither is it particularly noteworthy. Yes, we venture with the players to this faraway and mysterious island; yes, we come to realize that even in a new world with infinite possibilities we will continue to encounter good and evil, for they are the essence of human nature; and yes, we agree, when all is said and done, that forgiveness and reconciliation is vital in a society." Full Review
"Waterston at first projects a pitiable weariness...Director Michael Greif's episodic approach at times feels as choppy as the seas, while other scenes are seamlessly harmonious. Artful soloists help Prospero express his joy at finding love for his daughter -- his tempest tamed." Full Review
"Greif has otherwise done well by 'The Tempest', his take being utterly unadventurous but thoroughly respectable...There are no breakout performances, merely a militia of chess pieces of similarly high strength...Chalk it up to yet another interesting, unexplored possibility in this 'Tempest', which, is satisfied and satisfying working at the highest levels of the commonplace" Full Review
"While it is most definitely not a dud, it is not a rip roaring attention grabber either...This is a difficult play. The entire premise rests on the shoulders of Prospero .While Sam Waterston is game, he never quite hits the needed mark. In addition he appears more focused on his words than spinning a tale of poetry and charm." Full Review
"The rest of Michal Greif’s production is merely mundane, from hodge-podge costumes, uninspired seascape setting to the mixed bag of acting styles that are the mark of most Central Park Shakespeare productions, sometimes winningly so, sometimes, as here, not...I wish there were more humor in the production; even the comic relief Shakespeare provides with the jester Trinculo and the drunken sailor Stephano seemed to be running on low batteries." Full Review
"The simple, effective staging only accentuates the location’s natural beauty...Cirque-esque elements lend a modern touch, and though the majority of the costumes are de rigeur, the two slaves’ bondage-evoking harnesses provide a frisson of excitement...Still, these positives aren’t enough to distract from the production’s hollow center, and even with all of the turmoil, it ends up as more of a light shower than a 'Tempest'." Full Review
"This 'Tempest' feels strangely marooned, thanks to a series of hit-or-miss casting and design choices...In a production that often seems to be searching for a style and point of view, the presence of a great actor in his element proves to be the most magical component of all." Full Review
"The current production is more a squall than a tempest; it tells the story smoothly and efficiently, but only sporadically captures the magical atmosphere this wondrous play requires...Mr. Greif's staging is generally uninspired. A significant problem is his failure to come up with ways to gets his actors, especially the ensemble members, off the stage efficiently...While only occasionally satisfying, is nonetheless a suitable introduction to the play." Full Review
"Without a strong Prospero to anchor the play, the production merely drifts along...The supporting players are underwhelming. During the second act, director Greif jazzes up staging by circus-like business involving dancing nymphs and spirits. It’s pretty and provides some relief from the desultory doings that make this revival of 'The Tempest' so mediocre." Full Review
"It is hard to avoid a tinge of disappointment. This 'Tempest' seems a tad tepid...The performances are not often more than competent...The production picks up in liveliness as the story progresses, with the nice addition of music, but it never quite makes up for the turgid first half. Still, 'The Tempest' is worth seeing." Full Review
"Shakespeare in the Park has been so solidly enjoyable in recent summers that it’s sad to find one’s mind wandering in boredom, or eyes glazing over at a banal set. Such is the case at Michael Greif’s glossy, static, weakly interpreted 'Tempest', a late romance that offers a director the chance to conjure equal parts magic and melancholy. Instead of either, we get half-baked visuals and Sam Waterston as a vaguely rabbinical exiled duke-turned-wizard Prospero, whose enchanted cloak resembles a... Full Review
"This production flits and darts around the vast outdoor stage, with sea-wave panel backdrops, in search of something coherent or at least interestingly chaotic...Sexual tensions are at a minimum...As the evening went on I found myself less and less interested in any consummation." Full Review
"Shakespeare in the Park is nothing if not wildly uneven. So it goes with the Public Theater’s latest, 'The Tempest,' in which some of the acting is inventive and unexpected, and some is utterly mediocre. Unfortunately, Sam Waterston’s Prospero falls into the latter camp...After an underwhelming storm, there’s a beautiful bit of stage wizardry involving Ariel. It’s a little late, but at least it leaves you believing in magic." Full Review
"Stale choices sap 'The Tempest’s' power...Shakespeare’s uncanny investigation of love and freedom, and the way they are often both conjoined and opposed, cannot strike home unless an audience is at the same time elevated, even thrilled, by what it sees and hears...Perhaps, as is often the case, the company just needed more rehearsal and the designers a bigger budget. Still, we should not excuse too much. Prospero, matchmaking for Ariel, explains that he must make the wooing difficult 'lest t... Full Review
"A disappointing start with an ineffective, drawn-out, unusually cheap-looking production of the Bard's romantic drama 'The Tempest', led by Sam Waterston as Prospero...The acting ranges from decent to overblown and puzzling." Full Review
"The summer’s 'Tempest' in Central Park is a let-down. Plot and sense is subsumed under stage business and emotional telegraphy. The actors’ stylized, almost syncopated versifying is consistent in method but also includes a tendency to over-emote without communicating sense. The characterizations are also generic." Full Review
"'The Tempest' and Central Park were made for each other, so it must have taken a Herculean effort to drain Shakespeare’s most mysterious play of all its magic. Despite some thunderous sound-and-light effects, this plodding production lacks the power of enchantment...Everything about this earthbound production is presented in such literal terms that even the lyricism of the language is dashed upon the rocks and left to drown." Full Review
"It’s impossible to reconcile with this stubbornly unengaging staging in a production filled with missed opportunities and out-of-synch moments. And it’s too bad, because the production starts with promise...Yes the show is free. But it’s also a reminder that bad shows happen to good actors, good directors and deserving audiences. But when all is said and done, this is a 'Tempest' that should be tossed." Full Review
See it if You love Shakespeare and enjoy Public Theatre productions
Don't see it if You don't care for Shakespeare and find following the multiple characters and busy dialogue tedious
See it if you love Shakespeare! I thought the entire cast was wonderful, except for (sadly) Sam Waterston, who did some weird line readings.
Don't see it if you hate Shakespeare and outdoor theatre.
See it if You love Sam Waterston's acting. You haven't seen a really good production of The Tempest like the one starring Christopher Plummer.
Don't see it if You are a fan of The Tempest, and have seen good productions of this play. Waterston was so BORING! The whole production was lackluster.
See it if you enjoy Shakespeare or are a fan of the fantastic actors who play the leading roles.
Don't see it if you fall asleep at the thought of Shakespeare because you will most definitely fall asleep.
See it if As Prospero, Sam Waterston (TV's Law&Order) seems like a good choice. Sadly, he thought he was Polonius (from Hamlet) & lacked the magic.
Don't see it if If U don't like rapid weather changes or risking the threat of a rainout then beware outdoor theater. Skip if standing in line 4 tix grates?
See it if you want to see a Shakespeare staple & enjoy watching interesting characters.
Don't see it if you expect a quality performance by Sam Waterston or are unfamiliar with Shakespeare or even more particularly, this specific plot.
See it if you like classic Shakespeare plays that do not push boundaries or modernize Shakespeare, or if you have read the play
Don't see it if you have not read the play or are unfamiliar with much of Shakespeare's work, as it is quite dense
See it if You like Shakespeare and want to attend a fun outdoor theater event.
Don't see it if You're not a fan of Shakespeare. He's not my cup of tea, but some productions are still able to hold my attention; this isn't one.
See it if you enjoy watching (not well produced) Shakespeare in Central Park; live music worked will with the script; JTF was a standout
Don't see it if you've seen TEMPEST done well previously; you expect to see good direction; overall, actors were underutilized by lack of poor direction
See it if you really have nothing better to do. And you want to get drunk in the park and laugh at how bad this is.
Don't see it if you have little time to see a good show. or you have options to see pretty much anything else.
See it if you've ever seen a great shakespeare production--otherwise you might never try another. JTF great in comic relief, the only bright spot.
Don't see it if you've ever seen a great shakespeare production--it will seem that much worse by comparison. Lifeless. Dead. Supposed to be the TEMPEST!
See it if you want something fantastical and mystical and funny and cool. See it if you want to ponder the concept of the "other" and class relations
Don't see it if you don't like the genre of fantasy or Shakespeare.
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