by William Shakespeare adapted by Carl Miller.

Unicorn Theatre (Weston Theatre) 147 Tooley Street SE1 2 HZ To 19 June 2010.
10.30am 11, 16, 18 June.
1.30pm 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19 June.
5.30pm 12 June.
7pm 3-5, 10, 17, 19 June.
Audio-described 13, 15 June.
BSL Signed/Captioned 17 June 7pm, 18 June.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7645 0560.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 June.

A Tempest worth walking through water for.
Trimmed, rather than savagely cut, and with a few textual emendations for clarity, Carl Miller’s version of The Tempest for 9+ is a good introduction to the play for adults too. There are losses – the brief baiting of faithful old Gonzalo hardly seems worthwhile as the character’s never developed. But if there have been grander, more subtly-detailed Tempests, there remains plenty of place for a production where clarity is key.

And clarity doesn’t mean blandness. There is a series of fine moments in Tony Graham’s production. Its biggest experiment has Prospero played by one of the Unicorn ensemble’s female members, Samantha Adams. The impact’s intriguing. Adams rightly doesn’t strive for assertive masculinity in her playing-style, but the casting suggests the loss to young Miranda of having no mother most of her life.

It takes place on shipboard, with trap-doors and a rear upper-deck allowing for plentiful movement, to which the auditorium aisles also contribute – used to fine effective at the interval, as the drunken rebels stagger off, and at the end. Here, after Prospero’s final speech, during which Adams divests herself of regalia and moves gradually towards us, her voice becoming more everyday, till she’s seated talking conversationally at the very front of the stage, the cast finally run into the auditorium, chatting to audience members on the way out, as they had before the play began.

It’s not the only interaction. The Wedding Masque was always going to be lightweight, but three audience members are invited to augment the wedding-dance, creating an audience buzz, contrasted straight after by Prospero’s ‘Cloud-capp’d towers” speech, quietly underscored and gaining in intensity.

With Amaka Okafor’s Miranda a bright teenager full of youthful hope and energy in voice and expression, Ery Nzaramba’s Trinculo going off alone for a sulk when Stephano and Caliban start talking, and Liam Lane’s fine Caliban capturing the sense of what he’s lost, as well as squatting in his own frustrated sulk as the pair in whom he’d put so much hope are distracted by the display of fine clothing, Graham’s is a Tempest well-soaked in the play’s spirit.

Prospero: Samantha Adams.
Ariel/Gonzalo: John Cockerill.
Antonio/Stephano: Julie Hewlett.
Caliban/Alonso: Liam Lane.
Ferdinand/Trinculo: Ery Nzaramba.
Miranda/Sebastian: Amaka Okafor.

Director: Tony Graham.
Designer/Lighting: Adam Carrée.
Sound/Composer: Lewis Gibson.
Movement: Lawrence Evans.
Voice coach: Catherine Weate.
Costume: Mark Jones.

2010-06-04 17:33:51

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