THE TEMPEST – Synopsis

The Tempest opens with a storm … a “tempest,” you might say! The King of Naples and several of his attendants are on a boat, and that things are going so badly there’s not much to do but pray. Cut to dry land and to Prospero, chatting with her daughter Miranda. Prospero was the source of the magic that caused the storm that sank this boat, but she had good reason, and nobody was hurt in spite of all the mayhem.

She tells Miranda that she used to be Duke of Milan until her sister, Antonio, betrayed her and deposed her (with the consent of King Alonso) while Prospero was busy learning magic in her library. After all the usurping, Prospero and three-year-old Miranda were shuttled out to the ocean in a wreck of a boat. They ended up on this island, where they’ve lived for twelve years. Prospero thinks the time is right for action and revenge.

Prospero has two servants: Ariel, a delicate and airy spirit who was imprisoned in a tree by Sycorax, a witch, for not being nasty enough, and Caliban, son of Sycorax (Backstory: When Prospero landed on the island, she got rid of Sycorax, freed Ariel from the tree, and made Caliban her servant.)

After the shipwreck, Alonso, Antonio, Sebastian, and Gonzalo, an honest Lord who aided Prospero and Miranda, are scattered about the island. Alonso fears he lost his son, Prince Ferdinand, in the storm. Gonzalo is doing his best to cheer up the King, but to no avail, so the shipwrecked group set off to find him. Antonio and Sebastian, thinking Prince Ferdinand is dead, are plotting to murder Alonso so Sebastian can be king.

Meanwhile, the not-so-lost Prince is alive and convinced that his dad is dead. He’s distracted from his grief when he meets Miranda, and instantly falls in love. This is exactly what Prospero wants, but he uses a little reverse psychology on the couple, and accuses Ferdinand of being a traitor, putting him to the task of carrying wood. Ferdinand is happy to do this because his newfound love for Miranda makes work seem easy. Supposedly behind Prospero’s back, the couple declare their love, and promise to marry.

Back with the royal search party, everyone is exhausted and giving up hope, when a magical banquet appears. Amazed, at first, the hungry crew decides to eat, when Ariel, disguised as a harpy, appears, and says that the sea took Prince Ferdinand in exchange for the wrong Alonso committed against Prospero many years ago, and points out that there are other traitors – Antonio and Sebastian. Alonso repents. Antonio and Sebastian do not.

Meanwhile, Caliban encounters the King’s drunken butler, Stefano, and jester, Trinculo (also drunk), and they plot to murder Prospero so they can rule the island. Caliban (very drunk) pledges to be Stefano’s slave and swears allegiance, kissing Stephano’s feet. The drunken schemers are led off by Ariel playing music and set off to murder Prospero. They make their way to Prospero’s cave where they find all sorts of fine, rich clothing, and get totally distracted from their evil plot. Prospero sets hounds upon them, and the would-be-murderers run off.

At last, Prospero brings all these groups together, and joyfully reunites with Gonzalo, her true friend. Alonso apologizes to Prospero and returns her dukedom. Alonso and Ferdinand are reunited, and he is delighted to meet Miranda, his son’s new fiance. Prospero announced that she plans to retire to her dukedom in peace, and she sets Ariel free. She relinquishes his magic, and asks the audience to set her free.