The Tempest (1999): West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
PrThe Tempest (1999)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Paul Bhattacharjee (Ariel); Claudie Blakley (Miranda); Ian McKellen (Prospero); Rhashan Stone (Ferdinand); Timothy Walker (Caliban).
This production ran from 28 January - 27 February 1999.
"Kelly's Tempest seems patchily thought out, and now and again under-rehearsed. The vast box set is aggressively grim and bleak. The storm scene takes place upstage, behind a large grey plastic sheet, with the characters visible only as shadows. It is never clear who is shouting what and at whom....The grimy walls on stage bear the prisoners' daily scratch marks with which Prospero has been counting off his time on the island. A ring of stones marks out the space for his rituals. On one side, improbably, an ancient, crumbling sofa....The ending feels tentative. Casting women to play Antonio, Alonso and Sebastian does not really work: only Claire Benedict (Antonio) seems more or less at ease." ~ John Peter, "Losing the magic", Sunday Times, 14 February 1999
"Eagerly abetted by her designer, Robert Innes Hopkins, Kelly espouses the let's-make-it-ugly tradition. The most idiosyncratic feature of the production is its generous use of polythene sheeting. The stuff crops up everywhere: it is even used to swathe the goddesses in the masque. For the rest, Prospero's isle resembles a refuse dump, with one side of the stage dominated by a disintegrating sofa....Yet Shakespeare's words refuse to be drowned out, and the production - the third and last which McKellen's company is presenting in Leeds - has many redeeming aspects. A charming Ferdinand (Rhashan Stone), for instance...We must be grateful, too - thinking of some recent productions - for an Ariel (Paul Bhattacharjee) who discharges his duties willingly; and though the device of casting women as the three 'men of sin' doesn't entirely work (it would be better if they weren't got up in evening suits, like Marlene Dietrich), the surprising thing is the extent to which it does. Claire Benedict is particularly effective as the irredeemable Antonio." ~ John Gross, "Small storm in teacup, not many dead", Sunday Telegraph, 14 February 1999