Chaos, look out! Order is coming with his book and staff to put an end to your rule. No, it isn't some abstract allegory. . . it's St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School's production of "The Tempest."

Shakespeare's "The Tempest" tells the story of an exiled duke turned sorcerer who exacts justice against his adversaries on the island he now rules. But the theme that is often forgotten amid the many plots and subplots is the story of the island's original inhabitants, Ariel and Caliban. This production gives them their share of the spotlight.

Prospero, the self-styled ruler of the island, is portrayed as a force of order by Kyle Hayes. As his daughter, Miranda, Kate Thomas is proper and innocent. In contrast, the spirit Ariel is played by four people. Courtenay Philbrick, Anne Komer, Morgan Yarnoff and Annabelle Killmer sometimes speak in unison and sometimes separately, but together they form one coherent character. The four actresses' collective Ariel is good-natured, sometimes pouty, and always shows the chaotic nature just under the order imposed by Prospero. Caliban, the other denizen of the island, is interpreted by Bob Komer not as a grotesque monster but as a naive, luckless creature. Komer's goat-footed capering and expressive face and voice make the character both comic and strangely endearing.

The chaos of the island, however, finds other outlets in the shipwrecked party -- mainly in the play's two clowns, Trinculo (Robert Nelson) and Stefano (Gardner Reed). Nelson and Reed's exuberant, drunken escapades make them a comic duo to be reckoned with. It also affects Antonio and Sebastian (Alex McAuley and Greg Patton), who take advantage of the situation to plot to kill the Queen (Robin Baxley).

The simple but eloquent set (by Kerry Garikes), lighting (by Chelsea Land and Sarah Walinsky), and makeup (headed by Meredith Fifer) all add significantly to the feeling of ambient magic. The eponymous tempest, in the first scene, is particularly memorable.

A full score composed by Andrew Wyse and Natalie Richards sets the mood of every scene, and the admirable sound design by Jeff Cubeta, Andrew Propp and Max Krembs delivers every note clearly.

In the final scene, all the characters deliver the last monologue together. Chaos and order have come to a balance and that balance is evident here.

Rin Barton

Home School ITS

"Oh brave new world, that has such people in it!" St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School's production of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" did justice to the play's famous line by boldly conjuring a tale of the island-bound exploits of a vengeful wizard, several sinisterly charming sprites and an endearing pair of young lovers. Throw in a couple of power-hungry schemers and a marvelously boisterous trio of drunks and you have a production that alternates between riveting intensity and raucous hilarity.

Anchoring the show was Kyle Hayes's powerful, but never overwrought, portrayal of the sorcerer Prospero. Hayes's command of the stage matched his character's command of the magical servants collectively known as Ariel, who, in an intriguing departure from the more common interpretation of the mischievous character as a single male, was portrayed by four actresses who flitted about the set, giggling impishly as they wreaked havoc. Their coordination was remarkable and the effect elicited when they spoke in unison was deliciously eerie.

The play was buoyed by many excellent performances. The cast members portraying the shipwrecked retinue, led by the Queen (Robin Baxley), were uniformly persuasive in their royal dignity, including those with few speaking parts. Tim Sellon was sweetly pure as the romantic prince Ferdinand, providing a nice counterpoint to the darker aspects of the play. The riotous comic relief provided by Bob Komer, Robert Nelson and Gardner Reed revealed a keen understanding of the humor inherent in the material.

Though the netting that gently billowed from the stage into the theater produced an elaborate nautical effect, the set itself was simple, allowing the actors to remain the focus of the production. The lighting of the play was atmospheric and varied, and the sound quality was first-rate. The dramatic choreography and visually arresting makeup provided a unique twist, even if it was slightly obtrusive at times.

With its large cast, multiple storylines and characters often open to interpretation, "The Tempest" poses a formidable challenge to any high school production company. St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School carried it off splendidly. Brave new world, indeed.

Alex Holachek

George Mason

The Tempest continues this weekend with performances at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday.

From left, Kyle Hayes (Prospero), Kate Thomas (Prospero's daughter Miranda) and Tim Sellon (Ferdinand) rehearse a scene in "The Tempest." Bob Komer plays Caliban, the deformed slave.Canada McAuley (Antonio), left, and Greg Patton (Sebastian, brother of the Queen of Naples), practice a scene with actresses Robin Baxley (Alonsa), bottom left, and Natalie Kauppi (Gonzalo).