This isn’t a sponsored post.
BrumHour saw The Tempest at the invite of The RSC.
By David Fox twitter.com/DavidFoxTheatre
Review: The Tempest at Royal Shakespeare Theatre, The RSC
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Fresh, vibrant, and refreshingly modern.
Directed by Elizabeth Freestone, Written by William Shakespeare
Wronged Duke, Prospero is forced into exile with her daughter Miranda on a distant magical island. Fighting to survive amongst strange spirits, sights and sounds Prospero harnesses the weather to conjure up terrible storms, and ship-wrecks. Prospero commands the island until, one day, fate brings her enemies to her shores…
The Royal Shakespeare Company (The RSC) begins their 2023 season in magnificent style with an old favourite – The Tempest. This wonderfully modern production has maximum star-power and sees Doctor Who and E.R. legend Alex Kingston return to Stratford-upon-Avon and the RSC stage.
Kingston makes a fantastic Prospero – loving to her daughter, wonderous at the magic, and menacing toward her enemies – a brilliant performance throughout. I enjoyed her touching relationship with Jessica Rhodes’ Miranda and her joy at seeing her relationship bloom with Ferdinand. There are many great performances throughout the ensemble: Tommy Sim’aan as menacing “slave and hag-seed” Caliban; Ishia Bennison as a wonderful Gonzalo, and particularly funny comic turns from Cath Whitefield as Trinculo, and Simon Startin as drunken servant Stephano.
The Tempest is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays – easy to understand and very accessible (particularly good to teach and school and introduce young people to the world and language of Shakespeare.) I found this production to be particularly good due to its modern setting and costume. It really brought the play to life in the modern era and made it very accessible.
Set designer Tom Piper has done a magnificent job with the amazing set design – so many details to take in. In keeping with the themes and message of this production, this version of The Tempest has a green-twist and aims to be as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. Set elements have been recycled and repurposed from previous RSC productions (floor from A Winter’s Tale, flats from A Christmas Carol). One particularly striking element of the set is the use of trees – sourced from a local forest – and beautifully lit creating a marvellous magical atmosphere.
I enjoyed the performance throughout, but was particularly impressed by the portrayal of magic and spirits in the second act. Recycled plastic and bottles, and clever use of puppetry brought demon dogs and horrible harpies to life to great amazement and effect. Credit too to the music – a mixture of beautiful and haunting instruments, and the loud brashness of Stomp!
The RSC’s 2023 production of The Tempest has been inspired by the climate emergency and asks the audience to “examine the delicate balance in our personal relationships as well as with the fragile ecosystems that surround us.” It is certainly a production that makes you think.
There is much to enjoy in this production, which is fresh, vibrant, and refreshingly modern. The Tempest is a very accessible production, great for first-time Shakespeare viewers, and a highly recommended production. The Tempest is at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
until 4th March 2023 Book tickets at rsc.org.uk/the-tempest.