THE TEMPEST: William Shakespeare
RSC, Stratford Upon Avon, Main House
Runs: 2.5 hrs, one interval, in rep till 7 October 2012
Review: Alexander Ray, 26 04 12
A wonderful experience
This is a most beautiful and at times (often at surprising times) a moving production. No line appears to go unexamined so the production is full of revelations. Frequently these are fleeting revelations, but the effect is accumulative. David Farr does not create a neat and tidy production; Jonathan Slinger’s Prospero, for instance, is hard to fathom – but that makes him intensely human. And in that, somehow, likes this production’s success. Farr draws us to the human level by using modern dress and treating the text in a realistic register, then – creating a thrilling theatrical tension, uses all the resources of this marvellous RSC space to create the magic. Yes, this is a world we can believe in.
The production moves at a measured pace, with interactions between characters frequently intense. Farr meets anomalies head on; Caliban’s (Amel Hlehel) description of the island’s music is poetic and touching. (If Prospero can be unpredictable, why not Caliban too?)
The mature Shakespeare’s play becomes a deep exploration of humanity.
Jonathan Slinger’s Prospero is irascible – you sense he’s just about holding on to his sanity. His big mood swings are sudden, convincing, dramatic. And he reaches a fragile and strikingly simple resolution at the end.
In a strong ensemble Emily Taaffe’s Miranda is a delight and free from saccharine, with Solomon Israel’s Ferdinand charmingly down-to-earth.
Jon Bausor (design) and Jon Clark (lighting design) create a non-obtrusive theatrical visual treat effortlessly encompassing the demands of all those spirits and sprites, demons and goddesses. Adem Ilahn’s score is haunting.
And I leave the best to last. Sandy Grierson’s Ariel is stunning. Grierson combines power and naivete. His physical embodiment of Ariel is beautiful and disturbing; and with his expressive pale features, continually, conveys a heart-breaking sense of innocent wonder.
Prospero: Jonathan Slinger
Miranda: Emily Taaffe
Ariel: Sandy Grierson
Caliban: Amer Hlehel
Antonio: Jonathan McGuinness
Alonso: Kevin McMonagle
Ferdinand: Solomon Israel
Sebastian: Kirsty Bushell
Gonzalo: Nicholas Day
Trinculo: Felix Hayes
Stephano: Bruce Mackinnon
Adrian: Sargon Yelda
Francisco: Stephen Hagan
Boatswain: Jan Knightley
Iris: Amie Burns Walker
Ceres: Sarah Belcher
Juno: Cecilia Noble
Spirits: Ankur Bahl, Jan Knightley
Directed by: David Farr
Designed by: Jon Bausor
Lighting Designed by: Jon Clark
Music by: Adem Ilhan
Sound by: Christopher Shutt
Choreography buy: Fin Walker
Fights by: Kev McCurdy
Company Text and Voice Work by: Michael Corbidge
Assistant Director: Jamie Rocha Allan
Music Director: Bruce O’Neil
Casting by: Hannah Miller