The Tempest (1974): Leeds Playhouse (now West Yorkshire Playhouse)
PrThe Tempest (1974)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Sam Dastor (Ariel); Peter Gordon (Caliban); Nicky Guadagni (Miranda); Bernard Horsfall (Alonso); Paul Scofield (Prospero); John Sommerville (Ferdinand); Ronnie Stevens (Trinculo).
The first performance of this production took place on 30 October 1974.
"Paul Scofield has elected to unveil his remarkable Prospero in Leeds, which is Leeds' great good fortune. For he bestows on this pastmaster of mysticism the most marvellous humanising qualities....Given such omnipotent goodness it is a pity that director John Harrison could not define the forces over which Prospero holds sway more successfully." ~ Jack Tinker, "Scofield's still small voice is a match for any Tempest", Daily Mail, 31 October 1974
"Sean Cavanagh has set John Harrison's production on a platform painted with rainbow swirls that one would call psychedelic if their pastel colours were not so muted. The platform is supported by drab scaffolding, and overlooks a yellow painted circle. We should no doubt feel that everything happening within the circle is brought about at Prospero's command. Indeed, when Michael Brown's glaring lights are moderated, and when Prospero's attendant spirits look through the murk down on the action and chant Paul Todd's dissonant melodies, and especially when Paul Scofield's Prospero joins them, crouched like a yogi, the production comes into focus....Visually tawdry, and even perverse in the substitution of a butter muslin tint for the goddessess, the production does not much illuminate the play. However, there is a clearly spoken if over-balletic Ariel from Sam Dastor." ~ Charles Lewsen, The Times, 31 October 1974
"The elegant Ariel of Sam Dastor becomes magical because, as this Prospero speaks to him, he seems to be marvelling at his acquaintance with so light and delicate a spirit....The director, John Harrison, has taken his cue from Coleridge and avoided the danger of complicated scenery and decorations. A light platform above the thrust stage allows Prospero's pretty miracles to be evoked with simple silks or a sudden appartition of scarlet wings. The music of Paul Todd quietly aids the magic." ~ John Barber, "Scofield's remarkable mystic Prospero", Daily Telegraph, 31 October 1974
"Ariel (Sam Dastor) is neat but colourless, never once suggesting that the excellence of his functioning in the action's four-hour duration is due to his bursting desire for liberty and dissolution in the elements." ~ Michael Coveney, Financial Times, 4 November 1974
"It would certainly be exciting if London could see and hear Paul Scofield's Prospero in the production that has been packing the Leeds Playhouse. Here is something in which a provincial city has had the advantage of the metropolis; and no one would grudge the Leeds theatre its good fortune, the production so acutely directed by John Harrison." ~ J. C. Trewin, The Lady, 5 December 1974
"But this melancholic despot brings elsewhere no internal conflict with Peter Gordon's shuffling Caliban, or the graceful Ariel (Sam Dastor) perched at finger-tip distance from his master on a rainbow pastel-colour platform surrounded by shadowy hissing spirits." ~ Rosemary Say, "The magic of Prospero", Sunday Telegraph, 3 November 1974