It's also the first time The Tempest has been staged with such historical accuracy: as one of Shakespeare's last plays it was written not for the Globe, but for Blackfriars Theatre — the intimate indoor space upon which the Wanamaker Playhouse was modelled.
From the bustle of stormy seas and inky skies, to spirits suspended from the ceiling amidst twinkling candles, the show comes to life in the space. The live music adds much to the magic and the stage encompasses Caliban's subterranean prison and Ariel's unearthly heights. The inebriated clowning of Stephano (Trevor Fox) and Trinculo, played with rip-roaring good humour by Dominic Rowan, spills out into the audience.
Performances all round are impressive. Pippa Nixon is magnetic as a spritely Ariel wide-eyed with curiosity and charged with an uncomfortable closeness to her master. Tim McMullan is tremendous as Prospero with an enlightening combination of cunning, charm and churlishness. His inner conflict over relinquishing his powers, his fairy slave and his daughter are foregrounded, shading the comedy with dark complexity. There is no attempt to gloss over the xenophobia that shapes interactions with Caliban. Indeed the production emphasises the themes of colonialism and racism.
But there's still lashings of the light-hearted, laugh-out-loud clowning that has become so characteristic of the Globe under Dromgoole's reign. Slapstick dance moves, clowning and flashes of modern metatheacricality make this production of The Tempest feel fresh as well as faithful to the textual complexities.
|What||The Tempest, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse review|
Sam Wanamaker Theatre
21 New Globe Walk, London, SE1 9DT | MAP
|Nearest tube||Blackfriars (underground)|
17 Feb 16 – 22 Apr 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£10 - £60|
|Website||Click here to book via The Globe|