This past summer's festival production of The Tempest
offered a Dickensian take on Shakespeare: It was the best of productions and the worst of productions. But at its best, it was more rewarding than anything the Shakespeare Festival ever offered before. Among its virtues was the eye-popping (and plot-clarifying) scenic design by Christopher Pickart. Even more important, in the pivotal role of Prospero William Metzo delivered a performance of intelligence and poignance. For five years the Shakespeare Festival has operated on the premise that St. Louis audiences can only be entertained by tumbling clowns. The rapt attention that greeted Metzo's Prospero would indicate we're ready for denser stuff.