Boozy Bard returns to an old classic this month for another run at Shakespeare’s The Tempest (Raw). Once again, roles are chosen at random before the beginning of each show for a weirdly unique Results May Vary brush with one of the English language’s most celebrated authors. Mandi Veeder takes directorial duties for this show. The show's host Sarah Wallisch lent a refreshingly informal energy to the evening. The atmosphere of The Tempest with its strange chaos and interactions lends itself quite nicely to a freewheeling improv comic energy that Boozy Bard brings to the stage.
Opening night of the show a respectably large crowd filtered in to the Best Place Tavern in the shadow of the Bucks’ new place for a comfortably warm evening of comedy. The “casting director” hat felt as random as ever before the show, granting roles in a pattern that lent inadvertent comic strength to some scenes while leaving others a bit stylistically sparse. Sometimes the energy catches...sometimes it doesn’t. Actors take the stage with scripts...the iconic glaring red of the covers contrasts against the white of the pages in a darkened room that’s blasted with light. Actors launch themselves into characters they didn’t know they’d be playing until they arrived at the venue. There’s some great energy here even when things slow down.
A delightful energy all her own onstage AND off as both audience and performer at various points in the show, Sarah Seefeldt drew the honor of playing Miranda—the only woman on an isle ruled over by an old man with various magics. Seefeldt warmed-up to the strangeness of the role over the course of the evening, finding firm comic grounding for the character once Miranda’s love interest set-in.
Jim Donaldson wore an iridescent veil as Ariel. Beer perpetually in hand, Donaldson’s spirit carried himself across the floorboards of the Best Place in a magical slouch, shrugging chaos into the story while sipping beer. As always, Donaldson is perfectly in tune with the spirit of the show.
Also of note were scenes featuring Stephen M. Wolterstorff and Michelle White playing Stephano and Trinculo...a couple of the king’s servants who quickly find themselves in the company of a rather large Caliban in an awkwardly simply bit of green costuming. Wolterstorff and White had clever comic instincts that animated an already comic set of moments in the play. The great strengths of a script like The Tempest is that so much of it is already strange and comic. Add a little random casting and a few glasses of beer into the mix and it’s the perfect show for an informal evening at a bar with echoes of great writing bent around a weird mood.
Boozy Bard’s production of The Tempest runs through July 10 at the Best Place Tavern on 901 W. Juneau Ave. The run closes-out with a one-night-only performance July 12 at Hawthorne Coffee Rosters on 4177 S Howell Ave. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook page.