There’s an innovative new production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest directed by Paul Hart with music by Olly Fox now playing at The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor until November 3.
Although it is the first play printed in Shakespeare’s first folio of 1623, research has proved that it was probably one of the last plays he wrote, and the plot is something of a compendium of many themes from his previous plays. It is principally a tale of loss and recovery, with fraternal rivalry, betrayal, loyalty, romance, and the angst of the father/daughter relationship, set on an enchanted isle where its inhabitants are manipulated by Prospero, a wizard with magical powers.
Prospero (Michael Hadley), the deposed Duke of Milan, has been shipwrecked with his daughter Miranda (Greer Dale-Foulkes) on this strange island, inhabited only by the witch Sycorax’s unsavoury son, Caliban (Tim Chipping). Prospero had been deposed by his brother in collusion with the King of Naples, and uses his strange powers to effect a terrible storm that brings his enemies to the island so he can take his revenge. And what a storm the Watermill conjures up! As the play opens the theatre becomes a sinister and frightening place through the effects of light and sound, and indeed the eerie music and song that heralds the presence of magic is one of the highlights of this production.
The unfamiliar interpretation of the complex character of the spirit Ariel, Prospero’s servant, comes as a surprise, and Aoife McMahon’s rivetingly well executed performance does much to stimulate the audience’s imagination.
The events of one amazing day in an enchanted place unfold rather like a complicated country dance, tangling and then untangling, posing questions and then answering them. And along the way you hear some of the best speeches Shakespeare ever wrote. Comic relief, in true Shakespearian style, is provided by a very appealing Trinculo (Tarek Merchant) and Stephano (James Allen).
The Watermill ‘is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not’.
Mary Scriven (Unverified), 08/10/12
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