Review: The Tempest

Part deux of our May 1st trip was the matinee showing of The Tempest at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. How convenient that the Tate and the Globe are next door to each other?

I have never enjoyed reading Shakespeare, though I know many who do. I love watching it however. Especially when done by the right troupe (A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by Headlong Productions circa 2011, for instance). This one was the right troupe (or very nearly right anyway).

I was not aware that The Tempest was quite as funny as we found it to be. Obviously, this depends on how it is played, but we laughed ourselves silly. Not least because at one point an errant school child “accidentally” rolled his bottle of juice onto the stage. In retribution, Trinculo poured a bottle of “booze” over the entire school party (remaining in character of course).

Roger Allam (famous for just about everything) played Prospero as I believe he should be played – unsympathetically. His obsessive and controlling nature shone through. Even when he was “forgiving” his brother, it came across as manipulative rather than humble. This played off well against all the other character’s traits – his daughter’s naivity, Caliban’s madness, Ariel’s reluctant loyalty.

Colin Morgan (of Merlin fame) played Ariel. Scott and I turned to each other during the interval and just went: Merlin? Aye. At first, his acting made me a little uncomfortable, it was a bit awkward. But either the character grew on me or he gained his confidence, because by the end I was practically waiting for his moments on stage. He was a lot more agile than I expected too.

The highlight was when Ariel and the other spirits present themselves as a Harpy for the King’s party. The costuming and set use was exceptional here.

The Globe itself is an incredible venue. No need for microphones or intricate set pieces. The only downside was the occasional pillar that stoof between us and the action, and the occasional helicopter which drowned out the monologues. Exceptional word by the way – monologues.

We already have our tickets for our next Shakespeare adventure – June 11th, Taming of the Shew matinee and A Midsummer Night’s Dream evening performance. Excited!


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