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The Tempest ~ Synetic Theatre

Jordan Wright
October 1, 2019
Special to The Alexandria Times

Take The Tempest.  Now place it on a stage holding 2,500 gallons of water, six-inches deep.  Got it?  Mix the technological wizardry of a cutting-edge audio/visual immersive experience with an electronic score and keep it utterly wordless.  This is the fantasy world created by Synetic Theatre’s version of Shakespeare’s familiar drama.  Born out of the seemingly limitless imagination of visionary Artistic Director, Paata Tsikurishvili, a Georgian-born, theatrical pioneer and his wife Irina Tsikurishvili, actress and choreographer, who together founded this uniquely transgressive, no-rules theatre company, the two theater idealists combined to reinvent the classics through the art of athleticism, aesthetics, futuristic sound, and physicality as no other theater company.

Irina Tsikurishvili as Prospera. “The Tempest” at Synetic Theater. Photo by Johnny Shryock.

As with early Shakespeare productions, gender reversal was the norm as men played all the roles, both male and female.  In this production Paata toys with gender, casting Prospero as a newly minted, “Prospera”, played by his wife, Irina, a dancer/choreographer and 33-time Helen Hayes Award nominee.  Ariel, the female sprite, is imagined as male and performed by the tremendously talented dancer/performer, Alex Mills, who appears as a pop-locking, anime-inspired superhero, stylistically reminiscent of Marvel Comics’ Silver Surfer.

Alex Mills as Ariel. “The Tempest” at Synetic Theater. Photo by Johnny Shryock.

Welcome to Synetic’s phantasmagoric world of enchantment and mysticism.  Overflowing with dizzying acrobatics, flips, and watery somersaults, it offers up a seemingly psychedelic experience far outside the realm of the Shakespeare you have come to know.  You will never see anything like it in your lifetime.

Vato Tsikurishvili as Caliban. “The Tempest” at Synetic Theater. Photo by Johnny Shryock.

Cutting an elegant swath through an aqueous mist Prospera, the sorceress, cuts a majestic figure as she stands bravely amidst the sounds of crashing waves interwoven with electronica and futuristic synth-pop.  Hidden behind prison gates in a fiery-red grotto, lurks the malevolent monster, Caliban (Vato Tsikurishvili at his most magnificent).  He emerges stealthily, inching beneath the waves and the two lock horns as water spews across the stage, catching the light and spraying wildly onto the first three rows.  Dominated by splashing water, rainstorms, ferocious battles, amorphous sea creatures and playful comic scenes, this wildly atmospheric water world will be your new normal.

“The Tempest” at Synetic Theater. Photo by Johnny Shryock.

The entirety of this cast is outstanding in every respect.  In a production that redefines acting as both intensely physical and dramatically interpretive, the casting requires a unique kind of performer – one who is both classically trained in ballet and acrobatics, and who must be in top physical condition.  I was utterly blown away by the fearless athleticism and extraordinary acting expressed by this amazing cast.

Five stars! Bring the kids.

*** The first three rows are known as the “splash zone” and courtesy ponchos are graciously provided.  Request these seats when booking your tickets if you’re up for a totally immersive experience.

With Anne Flowers as Syncorax, Megan Khaziran as Antonia, Scott Brown as Ferdinand, Pablo Guillen as King Alonso, Katherine DuBois Maguire as Trinculo, Matt R. Stover as Stephano, and Scean Aaron and Katherine Frattini in the ensemble.

Directed by Paata Tsikurishvili and choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili with Composer & Sound Designer Konstantine Lortkipanidze, Scenic & Costume Designer Anastasia Simes and Lighting Designer Andrew Griffin.

Through October 20th at Synetic Theater, 1800 South Bell Street, Arlington, VA in Crystal City.  For tickets and information call 1-866-811-4111 or visit www.synetictheater.org.

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