In the final weeks of August, East Beach becomes a fantastic carnival of wholesome summer activities. The volleyball playing and swimming that happen there all year round intensify, and the circus that is the Santa Barbara Triathlon sets up for a long weekend exploding with athletic energy. This year, UpStage Left chose to inject some culture into this already vibrant mix by producing Shakespeare there, just to the left of the bathhouse and adjacent to the first of the volleyball nets. With spectators seated in comfy beach chairs or nestled together on blankets and towels spread on the sand, these intrepid young actors marched in broad tandem up from the waterline and over the crest of the shore toward their audience, only to flop in one big synchronized group gesture upon arriving at the play space. This was the shipwreck, and it announced that this would be a Tempest unlike any other.
Jordan Lemmond and Luana Psaros made strong impressions as Prospero and Miranda — he as a brooding and volatile father with a tender streak, and she as his sheltered but nevertheless adventurous daughter. Alizah Walton as Ariel and Malcolm McCarthy as Caliban contributed exciting, intelligently conceived physical characterizations along with their lines, and Sofia Ross delivered a convincing Antonio. Julia Paris and Avery Sorenson nearly stole the show with their hilarious take on Stephano and Trinculo. Talented director (and Independent contributor) Kit Steinkellner has a Halloween production of Dracula in the works. Let’s hope that many of the members of this excellent cast return to spook us in that show.