By Bill Walthall

The Tempest.

So. I think I like this play more for the memories and nostalgic feelings it induces in me than I do for what’s on the page (or on the stage in some cases). Yes, two of my favorite moments in a Shakespearean theater have come with this play, but one of those, I’m absolutely positive, is out of nostalgia.

And now, on another read, I’m not blown away. Don’t get me wrong. I still rate this in the top half (barely) of my favorite plays in the Canon. It’s number two on my list of romances, just behind Pericles.

But really, I’m underwhelmed, given my memories and good feelings about the play.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I took such a long break during the reading of this.

It just feels so…lightweight. It deals with probably the most important of all human endeavors, forgiveness, but dramatically not a whole lot happens during this afternoon on the island. My gut tells me that it should feel monumental (and NOT just because this is his last play); after all, families are reunited, a new family is born of love, servants are set free, political situations are righted. It should feel large, expansive, GREAT–only it doesn’t. Maybe that’s Shakespeare’s point here at the end of his career. Even the most monumental things in life are just everyday occurrences. It’s just life. And life is but a dream.

I guess I wanted something bigger here at the end.

And maybe that’s at the root of my ambivalence. This is the ending of what I had originally planned as “The Project.” Maybe my mixed feelings are because of the fact that this does feel like an ending of sorts. Maybe I don’t want it to end.

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