BY TARA McCARTHY

Elaborate costumes and stage design create a world of fantasy for a cast of seasoned and budding actors to tell an age-old story of redemption, love and magic.

Moving Parts Theatre has brought together a large ensemble for its large production of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

“The Tempest is really high stakes for the individuals,” explains Anton Solomon, artistic director for Moving Parts.

“Everybody’s story is intensely personal, which you want when you’re training actors. This is what audiences pay for – they don’t pay for the intensely mundane, they pay for the intensely personal.”

The tale is that of Prospero, a former Duke, and his daughter Miranda, both stranded on a deserted island after his brother usurped his power. Mike Ivens takes on the role of the commanding and revengeful wizard, who orchestrates spirits to dispense his magic.

Ivens says the character also acts as the audience’s guide.

“It’s an odd play in a way because at the start Prospero tells you everything that happened to him and what he’s going to do,” he says.

“At the end of the play he says, ‘I’ve done all these things – ta-da!’ It’s almost like the audience gets narrated into the story.”

Prospero controls everything at his fingertips from the conjuring of a storm to shipwreck a vessel, to devising a plan for his own daughter’s romantic destiny.

To bring this tale to life, an extensive multi-level stage has been constructed at the Wood Street Centre, allowing the spirits to rise from the ground rather than flitter in the atmosphere.

Doug Neill provides some welcomed humour to the role of Caliban, a noble savage under the rule of Prospero. Although he’s a familiar face from many local productions, he says he’s never seen a stage like the one produced for this show.

The attention to detail is also noticeable in the beautifully crafted costumes and masks, which transform the actors to depict this fantasy world.

However, a challenge that accompanies Shakespeare’s work is composed in iambic pentameter. Although Heidi Loos, who plays the role of Miranda, says she finds it less intensive.

“I thought it was going to be really hard and I was really scared, but it’s actually easier to memorize I find,” she says. “Because of the beats and the rhythm, you know how many syllables there are supposed to be in each sentence.”

Winluck Wong takes on the role of Ferdinand, a shipwrecked sailor who falls in love with young Miranda. He says in the end it’s not about the language, but rather the emotion underneath it.

For Solomon, he says the trickiest part is realizing that while the Bard’s work does not portray our time and reality, the thoughts and issues in the text are undeniably familiar.

“It’s seeing an identifiable reality in entertainment that makes it have a grip, otherwise it’s kind of ‘that was fun, let’s go have a beer’ kind of thing.”

With a laugh, he adds that he expects the audience to be exhausted from that personal reflection by the time Prospero reaches his epilogue.

Moving Parts Theatre presents The Tempest at the Wood Street Centre from Feb. 20 to 23 and Feb. 26 to March 1. Tickets are available in advance at Well Read Books.

PHOTO: MORGAN WHIBLEY morgwhib@gmail.com