Review – Caliban’s Cave (third installation of The Tempest in Six Parts) – RETZproduces at Borduria (297 Hoxton Street)

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Caliban: who is he, really? A hero? A villain? Is he evil, mentally deficient, or just warped by his past? We were given the chance to decide this for ourselves at the third installment of RETZ Production’s O Brave New World, in which we are invited to the lair of the “puppy headed monster” himself (or herself). Caliban’s cave is a detailed, low-ceiling environment that reminded me of nothing so much as the kinds of forts we used to build in the desert – a big pit in the ground with a bunch of mattresses thrown on top for shade and all of our precious treasures stored in little nooks inside. This was luxurious by fort standards – a spare armchair, a stool, some music playing, a half-busted computer monitor, and a bar (this being more part of the overall installation than Caliban’s per se, useful for people stopping by the location during the day or for those looking for a drink during the show).

We, the audience, show up shortly after the start time and arrange ourselves on the padded benches on the edges. From there, we are treated to Caliban’s exposition of his world – how he got where is his today (“see the picture of my mother!”), his take on Prospero (“Too much time reading and not enough duke-ing”), a wee hint of his feelings for Miranda, his dark smouldering plans to take his revenge on the person whom, in Caliban’s eyes, is responsible for ruining his life.

While I enjoyed my trip to Caliban’s crib, this episode did not hold up to the previous two (despite the good acting and the lovely reveal at the end). There was little use of Shakespeare’s own words, and, while some time spent in Caliban’s brain is fun, it just came off like a very thin production (albeit in a very rich environment). Caliban’s Cave was worth the trip for me, but I hope that this is as soft as the production goes, and that was are back to a richer performance in May with section four, The Claribel.

(This review is for a perfomance that took place on 7 PM, Thursday, April 19th, 2012. It continues through April 28th, at which time it will be torn down in preparation for the next installment.)

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