TEMPEST-TOST by Richard Rose, adapted from the novel by Robertson Davies, with Richard McMillan, Lucy Peacock, Kate Trotter, Les Carlson, Michael Schultz, Jonathan Goad, Brian Tree, Tara Rosling, Michelle Giroux and Adrienne Gould. Presented by the Stratford Festival at the Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford. Runs in rep to September 30. $62.15-$70.65. 1-800-567-1600. Rating: NNN
here's a seemingly perfect mar-riage. Director Richard Rose has adapted Robertson Davies' novel Tempest-Tost for the Stratford Festival. A look at the onstage and behind-the-scenes theatrics of a community group putting on Shakespeare's The Tempest, the piece allows the classical company to indulge in some really coarse acting and to spoof some of what it presents on its own stages.But the novel is sprawling, and Rose is hard-pressed to squeeze even a part of it into three hours.
Even though we don't get the whole novel -- I miss the controlling mother of one of the central figures -- the current text could use some tightening.
As a script, it needs more narrative drive and less character exposition, even if much of what we see is entertaining.
But there's lots of impressive work onstage, beginning with Richard McMillan's Hector, the troupe's middle-aged treasurer, who decides that he wants to act and that he's fallen in love with the young Griselda, who plays Ariel.
Complete with silly walk and all sorts of physical and emotional tics, McMillan gives the funniest performance at Stratford this season.
Michelle Giroux, one of the young stars of the company, shines again here as the rubbery-faced Griselda, as do Kate Trotter as the fussy, bluestocking head of the theatre company, Lucy Peacock as a professional director brought in because she's Trotter's friend, Jonathan Goad as a military Don Juan and Tara Rosling as the shy daughter of a fusty academic (Brian Tree).