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Friday, 2 September 2011

The Tempest, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Trevor Nunn continues his season at Theatre Royal Haymarket with a feisty production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The renowned director follows his stunning production of Flare Path with this classic, magical tale, said to be Shakespeare’s last work.

It is a wonderfully imaginative play and with the right exciting staging can be quite a spectacle. On a remote island Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, desperately tries to transport his daughter back to her rightful place with all kinds of illusions and experiments. He has the help of Ariel, the spirit of the air, who here is a beautifully androgenous creature flitting through the air and dancing amongst the other characters. Prospero lures his brother, Alonso The King of Naples to the island, meanwhile daughter Miranda falls in love with Alonso’s son.

The staging dramatically spills over the edge of the platform into the lower boxes giving the whole setting an otherworldly feel. Impressive video design from Ian William Galloway and overwhelming sound by Paul Groothuis further adds to the magical effect. The music is wonderfully atmospheric, with several of the characters singing to melodies from composer Shaun Davey. I particularly liked Ariel's poignant countertenor voice.

Familiar film star Ralph Fiennes leads the cast with a striking rendition of Prospero. Despite recently watching him as the terrifying Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter, here I felt automatically at ease with him - he presents the father figure as a man of great wisdom, strong yet serene. Miranda is taken on by Elisabeth Hopper, who holds her own next to Fiennes and there is some touching dialogue between them. Hopper manages to be youthful and naive while possessing a strength as well as a remarkably striking voice.

I don’t find this theatre the most comfortable; the chairs squeak insufferably, and on the night I attended a cold breeze made me shiver throughout. However it is worth enduring the conditions to witness this enchanting production of The Tempest.

The Tempest continues until 29 October, book tickets here.

1 comment:

  1. I will actually be in London at that time. Maybe I should go!

    Kristin xoxo