Red Koi Reviews

See what I've seen, hear what I've heard

“The Tempest” by William Shakespeare

Posted by redkoireviews on 17/09/2006

The tempestEarlier this year my Partner and I saw Bell Shakespeare perform “Romeo and Juliet“, and last night we saw “The Tempest“. I’ve never seen “The Tempest” before and found it my new favourite Shakespeare. The play is a tale of power, providence and magic.

Prospero is the bookish Duke of Milan, overthrown by his own brother and cast to sea, where by luck Prospero and his daughter land on an island with only a servant Caliban and spirit Ariel as company. When Prospero’s brother and his fellow conspirators sail close by, Prospero conjures a fearsome storm to deliver his foes to the island, where he seeks his revenge. In the process, love blooms and crooks conspire. In the end Prospero recognises that ‘The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance’ and forgives his foes. The full synopsis of the Bell production is here.

John Bell played Prospero, with all the presence and power that the character needs. I found some of the monologues very moving, able to build emotion in the audience with ease. In today’s world of email, sms and blogs, the art of oratory has been largely lost. Our gutless politicians lack the vision to deliver anything of substance.

The play is littered with lines and references that have become part of western culture. In our study we have a print of Coleridge’s ‘Miranda and the Tempest’. It’s a beautiful and powerful image from this play that many artists have drawn on for inspiration.

The set supported the shimmering magical atmopshere of the island, but wasn’t stunning in itself. Some of the comic roles in this play where given more attention than they might of otherwise been, making the play very accessible and entertaining.

The spirit Ariel that inhabits the island is normally cast as a man, but in this production is cast as a woman. I think Saskia Smith and Bell made the relationship between the two characters into something very beautiful and ambiguous. They appear as servant and master, but there are flickers of companionship, respect, and even love that tease the audience into wanting to know more.

If you do go to see this play (and you should), buy a program and read it before the show begins – you’ll get a whole lot more out of the production. Second opinion in the Sydney Morning Herald.

My Rating: 4.0 Stars

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One Response to ““The Tempest” by William Shakespeare”

  1. Hello, after reading this amazing post i am also cheerful to share my
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