What's not to love about a play in which a bunch of people stranded on a desert island all plot to get theirs one way or another?
Add a magical spirit, a pair of young lovers and a disgruntled monster and you've got William Shakespeare's "The Tempest," opening this weekend at A Noise Within in Glendale.
Aye, there's the rub (to quote the Bard in a different context).
It's Shakespeare's world of thee's and thou's and slang that's evaded people for 400 years.
"Usually when people have an aversion (to Shakespeare), it's because they feel that the language is behind a veiled screen," said A Noise Within's associate artist, Sabin Epstein, who is also directing this production.
"But an actor is working to make the thought accessible, so you understand what they're saying, and when that happens the play's unlocked. And when that happens, people get turned on and discover what an incredible writer the man was."
For Epstein, Shakespeare's magic is attributable to his understanding of human nature.
"You just wonder about how could one man write from such an informed point of view, where the observation is so astounding and he somehow remains neutral."
In Epstein's interpretation of the classic, featuring the magician Prospero's revenge on his plotting brother, nature is the core.
"One of the major issues, one of the major questions is, 'What is the nature of man?' " Epstein said. "It's a balance between man's animal nature and his spiritual nature," which, he says, is set up in the contrast between the monster Caliban, representing animal, and the spirit, Ariel.
The last preview performance, tonight at 8, costs $10. Tickets for all regular performances are $15, including Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. Saturday is the gala season premiere, at 7:30 p.m., and that costs $50, reception included, black tie optional.
A Noise Within is at 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Information: (818) 546-1924.