Thursday, May 7, 2009
The energy and the innovative staging of The Tempest by the Baron's Men go a long way toward overcoming the considerable disadvantages of their "green world" theatre.
"Castleton" lies in a narrow meadow along the lake, just west of the 360 bridge, and owner Richard Garriott has furnished it with quaint cabins, fancifully decorated. It reminded me very much of the "cabin camping" practiced in Scandinavia, where a family leases a tiny dwelling instead of pitching a tent.
The major and inescapable disadvantage to the locale is the boat traffic along the lake. Trees and reeds hide the playing space from inquisitive view, but the thump and roar of overpowered boat engines vies with very loud, very crappy music. And sound travels a long, long way along the surface of the water. So from your 7:30 start time until about Act III, it's easier to suspend belief than to suspend indignation.
Garriott's fantasies include a pretty impressive landbound pirate ship on the meadow's south side and a fortress/stockade slightly elevated to the north. Director Athena Peters offers seating on some wooden benches to the west, but also provides an array of mats in the center. Some of us took the mats, while others came with their own folding lawn chairs and placed them in front of the benches.
This is theatre in the round, but not in the usual sense. Instead of the spectators settling on all sides of the acting space, the Baron's Men move all around and through the spectator space. One never knows where the next scene will begin -- and consequently, for those of us on the mats, whether we will have to twist around, crane our necks to see past another groundling, or find ourselves pleasantly surprised by a player popping up close by from some unwatched quarter.
Read More at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .