Rough Magic is an original prequel to William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, depicting the relationship between Ariel (Lindsay Bellaire) and Caliban (Phillip Psutka) from the moment they met right up until the storm conjuring that opens The Tempest.
I saw Theatre Arcturus’ Weird: The Witches of Macbeth in 2015 and raved about it just a bit. It was my first recommendation when anybody asked me what I saw and loved (and what I heard from a lot of people in return).
Rough Magic was everything I’d wanted from a Theatre Arcturus follow-up and once again, it’s the first one I mention when people ask what I’ve seen and loved.
Why, you ask? Let’s bullet point this:
- The stage combat for the fight scene is gripping and tight.
- The story is engrossing and the text is notable. I’m not a Shakespearean expert, but can say the dialogue comes close enough for a lay person without being alienating the way old text sometimes can be.
- The production value on the costumes and make-up is high. True fact, I met Phillip Psutka in Arts Court a day later and didn’t initially recognize him without his Caliban guise.
- A good portion of the staging of Rough Magic relies on aerial silk work — which is magnificent. I could watch Lindsay Bellaire’s silk work for a lot longer than this one hour show time.
- Trust me when I say, there’s no more physically demanding (or interesting) show at the festival and both Bellaire and Psutka give everything they’ve got.
- Remarkable acting. Lindsey Bellaire’s Ariel skillfully manages innocence, mischief, and ferocity. Phillip Psutka’s Caliban is powerful and tormented. If his acting were any less than top tier, he would easily end up over shadowed by Bellaire’s aerial work.
- You will believe that sprites can fly after this.
- Aerial, Ariel. I can’t be the only one who finds that funny.
- And… you don’t need to know the story of The Tempest to enjoy this. A bit of fore knowledge is useful, but if you have the basics (read the first paragraph), you’ll have no problems.
For the constructive criticism part of this review, there is one thing I’d like to see more of as the show develops further. That being the relationship/chemistry between our Ariel and Caliban, feeling that getting to see a little more camaraderie would intensify the conflict between them that much more once it all sours. I’m basically asking for a second layer of icing on my cake, though, at this point.
For my money, theatre like this doesn’t come along often. It is, as we say in the biz, a must see.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. Did you enjoy Rough Magic? Did you think it lived up to Weird: The Witches of Macbeth? Better? Join the discussion and leave a comment below.