Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: David Farr
Reviewer: Jenni Rymer
As part of the 2012 World Shakespeare Festival, the RSC are performing Shakespeare’s trilogy of ‘shipwreck’ plays. The performance of the Tempest at the Roundhouse is the climatic finale in this collection of productions and is brought to fruition by the directive talents of David Farr.
There are always high expectations of any RSC production as their reputation as superb prophets of Shakespeare’s legendary works precedes them, and this depiction of The Tempest certainly does not disappoint.
The Tempest is a truly enchanting story, laced with conflicting themes such as vengeance, forgiveness, isolation and friendship. It is centred around the protagonist Prospero, the Duke of Milan (Jonathan Slinger) who was usurped with his daughter Miranda (Emily Taaffe) by his brother Antonio (Jonathan McGuinness). They are sent out to sea and end up on a far off island which Prospero rules through the power of magic. Many years later he senses that his enemies who had designed his expulsion from Milan are close and thence conjures a powerful tempest to bring them to his island so he can at last take his revenge. The stories and mischiefs of the characters ensue to unfold unto a chaos of drunken crew, corrupt notions, and eventual touching portrayals of forgiveness, love and reconciliation.
The characterisation throughout this play gives tribute to the intriguing plot of the Tempest. The RSC excel themselves as they take the audience on a journey which absorbs the imagination. Slinger’s powerful, yet humbling portrayal of Prospero is enthralling. He conveys the compassion, and torment of Prospero with aplomb.
As with many Shakespeare plays you have the jester who is there to bring light and laughter to the hearts of the spectators. In this performance this intention is achieved by the expert comedic timing of Felix Hayes as Trinculo. He literally brings the house down with one liner’s that may not appear humorous on paper but with Hayes’ delivery enduce tears of laughter.
Overall, this production of The Tempest is awe-inspiringly magical. It liberates your imagination and welcomes you into its world with open arms. From the set design which conveys symbolic reverence to the plot and mind set of the characters thence embellishing upon the all-encompassing enchantment of this portrayal, to the dulcet tones of Ariel played with phenomenal subtlety by Sandy Grierson, you are held in the trance of this phenomenal production.