Last Updated on July 8, 2019 by Jeremy
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The Tempest is a classic by William Shakespeare that has survived the centuries amongst his portfolio of acclaimed works.
The Tempest is a modern rendition with a stellar all-female cast, led by Tamara Tunie (of Law and Order fame), that I knew I couldn't miss.
The Tempest by the Pittsburgh Public Theater
The play begins with the main character, played by Tamara Tunie, is in a hospital with cancer.
The hospital scene is conducted in silence and presents a range of emotions through facial expressions and gestures alone as doctors, nurses, and family members come in (with a few Pittsburgh references thrown in for good measure- you'll just have to wait to see those for yourself though).
After all have left, she is whisked away through her window and led into a new world where she is transformed into the wise and powerful Prospero, and the spoken acts of the play begin.
It is not in my habit of giving away the plot of performances, even for those as well known as a Shakesperean play, so you'll have to get tickets for yourself to see what follows.
Suffice it to say, I was left marveled, laughing, and also wanting to look up a few old English words in the dictionary as well (I am admittedly not a Shakespeare fan by default).
But what really impressed me from this show was the talent of the actresses all around.
I bought my ticket to this one because I have long been a fan of Law and Order and wanted to see Tamara Tunie live (who I later learned is a Pittsburgh native as well), and left with a fonder appreciation of the many artists who currently call Pittsburgh home. The stage chemistry is quite visible in this one, and for that makes it a must-see performance in its own right.
The O'Reilly Theater is a Downtown Gem
When we normally talk about shows in Pittsburgh, we often think of the larger, nearby theaters of the Benedum or the Byham. But after taking in The Tempest performance at the O'Reilly Theater (situated in between the two in the Cultural District), I have to say- I am impressed.
The reason for this is because the O'Reilly Theater is significantly smaller. Going further, the seating wraps around the stage slightly and produces a much more intimate experience- especially for those in the closer seats.
While the best seats in the house are still those that face the stage, as is the case in traditional theater, the seats off to the side feel a bit more immersive where you are almost apart of the action (especially those on the lower level which sit, quite literally, at the edge of the stage).
I purchased a ticket on the side out of curiosity (and for a price drop for a few of the seats furthest wrapped around), and did not notice as many obstructions as I would've thought- although this certainly varies from show to show and cannot be guaranteed.
However, I would recommend paying the higher price to sit closer to the main seating area rather than further away to hedge your bets for the best view (those furthest away will most certainly have more obstructed views and see the backs of the actors more).
All things being equal, it really enjoyed watching The Tempest, and especially so at this particular theater due to the seating setup you don't see just everywhere.
Looking forward to the next one!
The Tempest is playing at the O'Reilly Theater until February 24th, 2019. The theater is located at 621 Penn Avenue in the Cultural District.