Mik Kuhlman, as Ariel, and Jeanne Dougherty, as Propero, tear up the stage in Vashon Theatre Fest’s production of “The Tempest” (Michelle Bates Photo).

Mik Kuhlman, as Ariel, and Jeanne Dougherty, as Propero, tear up the stage in Vashon Theatre Fest’s production of “The Tempest” (Michelle Bates Photo).

Review: Experiencing ‘The Tempest’ on an Island is Sublime

It is a revelation to watch Shakespeare on the Great Lawn of Open Space.

If thou hast not done so already, prithee, hie thee to Open Space for Arts & Community to feast thine eyes and ears and very soul upon the beauteous bounty of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” on Thursday, Saturday or Sunday.

Seriously, just go: the show is not to be missed.

It is a revelation to watch Shakespeare on the Great Lawn of Open Space — a place that offers both big skies and towering firs to serve as the backdrop for the play’s simple yet evocative set, designed by Kitty Kavanaugh.

The Great Lawn is ideal for a theater festival, and it is easy to how future editions of the fledgling Vashon Theatre Fest could be even more fully staged there, as the festival grows and is hopefully able to add more sophisticated infrastructure including a raised stage and enhanced lighting and sound equipment. In “The Tempest,” we can already see this potential through the often sonorous work of sound designer Max Sarkowsky.

And could any Shakespeare play be more perfect for Vashon? “The Tempest,” after all, takes place on an island, you know.

But the best reason to see “The Tempest” is its cast.

Jeanne Dougherty, as Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, transforms the tyrannical father that Shakespeare wrote into a multi-tasking tiger mom, helicoptering in and out of scenes before she finally transforms, before our eyes, into the more nurturing kind of mama her island babies need.

Mik Kuhlman, as the sprite Ariel, brings a delightful maturity to her character, typically played by actors who are half of Kuhlman’s age. Ariel, we discover through Kuhlman’s artistry, is actually deeper, funnier and much more interesting as an older, more frazzled and world-weary fairy.

Meghan Ames and Christopher Kehoe are terrific as the lovers Miranda and Ferdinand — we hope to see this real-life couple on stage together more often on the island.

There are many other indelible performances as well — Anthony Winker plays a very bent but not broken Caliban, and Tammy Brockway Joyce turns the ditzy comedy of the character of Trinculo up to 11. And what a delight to see the beloved Vashon theater stalwarts Phil Dunn and Stephen Floyd together again on stage. Everyone in the cast rises to the considerable challenges of the play.

Upcoming productions of “The Tempest” will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 30 to Aug. 1, at 6 p.m., at Open Space. Get tickets at brownpapertickets.com.

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