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THEATER REVIEW : Laughing Along With 'The Tempest' : A spirit of fun emerges in the Classics in the Park production of Shakespeare's play.


Although it can be viewed as one of Shakespeare's deepest, most thoughtful works, there's plenty of fun to be had from "The Tempest." And that's the approach taken in the production by Classics in the Park, touring various Ventura and Los Angeles facilities.

Director Michael Jordan has chosen to present the entire play for laughs, even the character of deposed nobleman and bitter magician Prospero. Another unconventional decision by Jordan is the casting of Aaron Craig in that role: A star of last year's Ojai Shakespeare Festival, he's surely one of very few actors to have played young Romeo and old Prospero within a year's time.

Viewed last week at Borchard Park, the play moved somewhat erratically, actors standing around waiting for their cues or dropping their lines entirely too often. Still, there was much to enjoy about the show, most of it occurring when Richard Winterstein was on stage as the monster Caliban.

Made up to resemble the Incredible Hulk, Winterstein interprets the half man-half fish as more petulant than enraged, to strong comic effect. As the friendly spirit Ariel, Pamila Canton changes costumes as frequently as Diana Ross, and in fact often resembles a lounge singer as she flits about the stage.

The young lovers--Prospero's daughter Miranda and the prince Ferdinand, who gets washed up on Prospero's island after a shipwreck--are portrayed most convincingly by Pepita Merayo and Keith Cable as a couple of pre-Elizabethan airheads.

Jim Diderrich and Kathryn Baron have some good scenes together as drunken Stephano and jester Trinculo; even funnier are the scenes in which they expose Caliban to his first taste of alcohol.

James Catlett, Rebecca Hanes, Rochelle Robinson, Mark M. Gales and director Jordan mainly stand and (it seems) stare at one another as Ferdinand's fellow castaways, Neapolitan nobles.


* WHAT: "The Tempest."

* WHEN: Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

* WHERE: Conejo Park, Dover and Hendrix avenues, Thousand Oaks.

* HOW MUCH: Free.

* FYI: For further information, call 499-4355.

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