THE TEMPEST To 8 September.


by William Shakespeare.

Theatre Royal Sawclose BA1 1ET To 8 September 2012.
Mon-Wed 7.30pm Thu-Sat 8pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.

TICKETS: 01225 448844.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 30 August.

Happy voyage to love and self-discovery.
It doesn’t take much to make Tim Pigott-Smith’s Prospero angry – hardly surprising in someone who’s been supplanted and exiled, then had to establish himself on a strange island. But it makes his tenderness noticeable – in his smile as he answers Miranda’s question about being his daughter, or the deeply-felt response when Ariel, having closely examined the lovers Miranda and Ferdinand, asks if Prospero loves him.

Yet this is a commanding figure, from the moment Pigott-Smith strides on to invoke the opening tempest, until the final speech where he breaks his staff with a mighty crack and shifts, through the epilogue, from confident magician to someone – character, actor or author – finding an identity without the aid of any sort of magic. It’s a moving conclusion, making the palimpsest of Prospero and Shakespeare unusually transparent. And it’s at the most consciously dramatic moment, when Prospero compares theatre and life, “the great globe itself”, that Prospero truly moves towards self-realisation.

Ralph Funicello’s spare, abstract design, with side walls where spirits observe, adding island noises to confuse the newly-wrecked, focuses attention on two mobile visual elements, Prospero’s cloak and a huge sea-blue drape which trails wave-like along the floor, revealing characters and providing a counterpane where the visiting sleepers lie, as in bed, particularly vulnerable to conspirators.

Philip Voss gives Gonzalo a quiet benevolence that animates his usually tedious musings on an ideal state, while Miranda’s “brave new world” for once isn’t addressed to the arch villains. And when Sean Murray’s mature, thoughtful Sebastian turns towards the reunited group, Michael Mears’ disdainful Antonio remains the sole discord in Shakespeare’s resolution.

Mark Meadows’ bare-chested, colour coordinated Ariel, hair gathered high like a coral, reaches towards friendship as well as freedom. A creature of short memory, it’s startling when he reminds Prospero of something. Disappointed at not being immediately freed, he remains eager to please. After observing the lovers, his question whether Prospero loves him is a desire to share a human experience, while Matt Ryan’s Caliban, despite his thuggish, fishy demeanour, shares the production’s underlying urge for companionship, which finally overflows into the audience.

Prospero: Tim Pigott-Smith.
Alonso: Christopher Good.
Gonzalo: Philip Voss.
Antonio: Michael Mears.
Sebastian: Sean Murray.
Ferdinand: Mark Quartley.
Miranda: Iris Roberts.
Ariel: Mark Meadows.
Caliban: Matt Ryan.
Stephano: Geoffrey Freshwater.
Trinculo: Mark Hadfield.
Adrian: Tom Giles.
Francisco: Chris Ellis-Stanton.
Iris: Rebecca Lock.
Juno: Rachael Archer.
Ceres: Kaisa Hammarlund.
Boatswain: Sandy Batchelor.
Master: Gabriel Vick.
Ensemble: Iddon Jones, Gloria Onitri, Nikki Mae, Robbie Towns.

Director: Adrian Noble.
Designer: Ralph Funicello.
Lighting: Alan Burrett.
Sound: Dan Moses Schreier.
Music: Shaun Davey.
Musical Director: Malcolm Newton.
Choreographer: Sue Lefton.
Costume: Deidre Clancy.
Puppet coach: Oliver Smart.
Assistant director: Ellen Havard.

2012-08-31 17:03:42

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