‘Wake:’ a corruption of ‘The Tempest’


“On this isle, I would govern with such perfection…” Buntport Theater’s creative crew has a wonderful way of staging literary classics through their own imaginative lenses, writing original material and figuring out astonishing staging.

A friend who joined us for an evening with “Wake” suggested that this shows “how the play might have been written if Shakespeare were six 30-something students from Colorado College. Are they trying to show contradictions with the Shakespeare play?”

They offered the usual smart design, some of the most interesting music and technical details ever (take a hard look at that piano) and the expected clear delivery of the Bard’s lines, selected from the original.

Erik Edborg, Erin Rollman, Brian Colonna, SamAnTha Schmitz and Hannah Duggan collaborated with the multitalented Adam Stone, who was playing stormy music on the piano when the audience arrived. He is responsible for a mass of radios, speakers, tape players and what-have-you, which kept a fairly steady level of interesting — and not really distracting — background sound going.

As the magical sprite Ariel, he managed to have tape exude from his hands, with Prospero talking, for instance —which would fade off and slow down as tapes were inclined to do. Ariel flits about pushing buttons and creating sounds across the stage as he tries to help Miranda (Erin Rollman) deal with boredom on the island where she is stranded — and to protect her.

Miranda has been on this island since she was a little girl, after she and her father were banished from the kingdom of Milan by his brother. We see her as a child and later, as a young woman hoping for a lover to appear, but passage of time seems vague — perhaps deliberately?

Her father, Prospero, the king with magical powers, to whom Ariel is a slave, is played by Erik Edborg. He tapes his speech as he strides around — mostly lines from the original, that tell the story. Broken tapes and recorders seem to symbolize the malfunctions in this telling of the tale.

Prospero and Miranda spend a good bit of time staring out to sea, awaiting the assorted folks who actually do appear after the tempest in Shakespeare’s script — but they never appear in this version, Prospero disappears and Miranda is left with Ariel and the slave Caliban (Brian Colonna,) who was on the island when they arrived.

Unhappy Caliban who is tethered by a huge rope around his neck, gathers rocks and makes constellations (stars light up overhead also), and spouts lots of the language from the play — again clearly and with feeling, but the probably deliberate disconnect with bits of broken story made it difficult for this viewer — and Shakespeare lover — to connect the dots much of the time. (Miranda and Caliban do connect in this variation.)

Perhaps that’s the point, but it’s unsettling.

If you go:

Buntport Theater is at 717 Lipan St., Denver. “Wake” runs through Feb. 23. Performances: 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sunday Feb. 10 and 17. Tickets: $16/$13, 720-946-1388

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