THE TEMPEST, William Shakespeare: RSC / Little Angel Theatre
Swan, Stratford Upon Avon
Runs: 1h 20m, no interval
At The Swan till 26 March, then to the Little Angel, in London
Review: Rod Dungate, 17 March 2011
Magic in parts, but not quite there, yet.
To present THE TEMPEST with the aid of a series of puppets is a clever idea. This joint production between the RSC and the Little Angel Theatre has a lot going for it; yet there’s a sense that it’s got a long way along the road but not quite reached its destination.
The fantastic characters of Ariel and Caliban, Prospero’s magic, the masques and other creatures are fertile ground for the power of puppetry. Caliban, a large two person puppet is wonderfully created and Jonathan Dixon animates him with sensitivity and humour. Ariel, though, doesn’t really work. The puppet is too small for the authority the creature has and too solid – far from being a creature created from the air. There are moments when his beautifully sculpted face captures and holds our attention, there are other moments, though, when he is too close to an Action Man Superman for comfort.
Other island creatures are magically created yet the central masque conjured up by Prospero is a bit of a mess and it’s hard to tell what’s going on.
David Fielder is a fine Prospero; this is a simple (not simplistic) rendering in tune with the production as a whole. Anneika Rose is a bright and sparky Miranda; a perfect partner for the innocent Ferdinand she meets.
It’s a shame that the show as a whole doesn’t live up to the promise of its marvellous opening. Peter Glanville needs, perhaps, a greater feeling for the play, to draw out from the team a story that is lived through, moment by moment, rather than demonstrated. The ending, though, with the island returned to its rightful owners, is a stunning close.
Sebastian / Stephano: Brett Brown
Trinculo/ Gonzalo: Ruth Calkin
Caliban / Alonso: Jonathan Dixon
Prospero: David Fielder
Miranda: Anneika Rose
Ferdinand / Antonio: Christopher Staines
Ariel: Jonathan Storey
Directed by: Peter Glanville
Set and Costume Designed by: Laura McEwen
Puppets Designed by: Lyndie Wright
Lighting Designed by: David Duffy
Music and Additional Lyrics by: Ben Glasstone
Puppetry Consultant: Sarah Wright
Assistant Lighting Designer: Simon Spencer
Assistant Sound Designer: Andrew Franks
Company Text and Voice Work by: Richard Ryder
Company Movement by: Kate Sagovsky
Assistant Director: Michael Fentiman
Casting by: Janine Snape