Stern Dramatics Society Triumphs in The Tempest

By: Shoshana Bachrach  |  April 9, 2014

Irit_Greenboim032514_09For the Stern College Dramatics Society, art imitated life with their exceptional performance of The Tempest, and not only because it ended, like a CJF trip to a distant land, with an engagement. Just as the protagonist Prospero was ejected from duke ship in Milan and exiled to a distant isle, SCDS has been recovering from the loss of the Schottenstein Center at the end of the 2012 school year. The past few semesters have shown a group with resilience and creativity, with professional performances despite less than ideal conditions. Last night’s stellar performance proved, as the Bard himself said, all’s well that ends well, and that SCDS is firmly back on its feet.

It seemed, in previous semesters, that SCDS was struggling to utilize Norman Thomas’s expansive stage. Last night was a creative triumph in that regard. The set sounds deceptively simple: a rocky beach backdrop, a twisting tree trunk, some shrubbery here and there. In truth, there was some extremely clever staging being employed, to say nothing of artistic talent. Unlike other performances, in which the large stage seemed somewhat bare, the gigantic, 17 foot tall tree positively filled it up. Upon closer inspection, the tree was made from twisting vines of thick paper, but from the audience it appeared solid, expansive, and mysterious. The sounds and lights filled the room as well, particularly noticeable and effective as the storm roared in the first scene.

It was a delight as well to see the actors use their space to the fullest, whether stomping, gliding, or in the case of Sharona Kay’s Stephano, drunkenly stumbling all over the stage. Most notable was the excellent Sarala Pool, whose nimble, glittering Ariel seemed to have wings as she zipped gracefully across the stage. The costuming and makeup added fully to the effect of the actresses’ believable and well executed parts. Carefully crafted facial hair and garments hand-sewn by student seamstresses were perfectly fitting to each and every character.

For all that is to be said about the effects, the audience would have been entranced (albeit a bit more confused) without any of it. Freshman Devora Scott Thones was powerful and eloquent as lead character Prospeo. Malka Sigal and Kayla Miller’s hilarious camaraderie would have shown through even without the costumes and the curtain, as they kept the audience laughing with their impeccable comedic timing and exaggerated facial expressions. It’s one thing to wrap your mouth around Shakespearean dialogue; it’s another to perform it with actual understanding, and in that regard, each one of the actresses was superb. Whether long monologues or quick one-liners, the cast was well prepared and comfortable with their complicated Shakespearean sentences. The standout of the night was Racheli Schuraytz’s performance as Caliban; she was absurdly good, all at once disgusting and compelling and oddly sympathetic but moreover completely believable.

All in all, the SCDS cast once again executed an exciting and compelling show for the spring semester. Making the most of their resources and tapping into the exceptional talent of the Stern women from freshmen to senior proved a winning strategy for this Shakespearean tale.