Date: 29 March 2016, 14:00
Venue: Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London
Director: Dominic Dromgoole
As you can see by the date, this is a very late review and will be shorter than normal, but I still wanted to write about this play as it was wonderfully done.
The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is essentially a smaller Globe theatre, as the stage is significantly smaller than the Globe I was interested to see how they would portray the impressiveness of the storm. However I feel having a small space for the storm worked really well, the drumming and music seemed louder and overwhelming than what it might have done in a larger space. The actors threw themselves into the audience to convey the violence and recklessness which was a nice touch and made you feel like part of the play from the beginning – which really set the tone and atmosphere for the rest of the play.
The play was well cast with Prospero (Tim McMullan) and Ariel (Pippa Nixon) working really well with each other and playing off each other in a way that really complemented their individual performances. I especially enjoyed how Pippa Nixon played Ariel with more serious tones than playful ones, yet still with a subtle childlike eagerness to please – I felt she fully demonstrated how complex Ariel is as a character.
Caliban (Fisayo Akinade) and his companions were also great in their roles. Not only did they interact well with each other, and were a great contrast against each other with Caliban’s aggressiveness and Trinculo and Stephano’s much more laid back approach, but they interacted well with the audience too. There were a couple of instances where Trinculo (Dominic Rowan) really stood out, in an off the cuff response to a very enthusiastic child and in teasing a lady in the front row. Every now and then Trinculo or Stephano (Trevor Fox) would throw in a modern reference which fit really well and wasn’t jarring as one might expect, instead it just reinforced the idea of how relevant Shakespeare plays still are today.
Personally my favourite scene was the banquet scene (Act 3, Scene 3) as it was chaotic, I particularly liked how they presented Ariel in that scene and showed off how powerful Ariel can be. This scene was just one of many where you could really see how they used the small stage to their advantage. One of the ways they did this was through the use of music, which was one of the highlights for me, the music at times felt as though it were an additional character crucial to advancing the plot.
Overall, it was a great performance of The Tempest and it reminded me of how much I love Dromgoole’s interpretation and portrayals of Shakespeare’s plays.