British Black and Asian Shakespeare Performance Database
The Tempest (2007): Northern Broadsides
PrThe Tempest (2007)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Sarah Cattle (Miranda); Matt Connor (Ferdinand); Belinda Everett (Ariel); Nicola Gardner (Ariel); Michael Hugo (Caliban); Barrie Rutter (Prospero); Simone Saunders (Ariel).
The first performance of this production took place on 23 February 2007.
The production is notable for having three black actresses share the role of Ariel.
"Northern Broadsides' latest production leaves no doubt that The Tempest is a rollicking jazz musical. The musical arrangements of composer, actor and associate director Conrad Nelson have become Northern Broadsides' secret weapon, and here he provides a dash of Dixieland swing. Caliban states that the isle is full of noises and launches into a Louis Armstrong cakewalk to prove it. The wedding masque has a stirring gospel flavour, while the supernatural atmosphere is reinforced by the ethereal sound of vibes. The costumes, however, are distinctly 18th century, so perhaps director Barrie Rutter means to read the play as a colonialist metaphor...Yet Rutter's chief innovation is to interpret Ariel as a girl group: Nicola Gardner, Simone Saunders and Belinda Everett divide the tricksy spirit's lines between them, adding some slinky Motown moves and harmonies along the way. Lis Evans's set is a simple, rustic structure and Rutter, never an actor to pass a barn without storming it, delivers a Prospero who gives credence to Miranda's line 'your tale, sir, would cure deafness'." ~ Alfred Hickling, The Guardian, 3 March 2007
"Everything plays out in the glare of a tropical sun. There isn't any shadowy ambiguity on this island....The otherworldly tone of the vibraphone mixes with accordian-accompanied sea shanties....The wedding masque has a Polynesian look and a gospel feel. As the cast double up on instruments, the stage occasionally resembles the Shakespearean equivalent of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band's The Intro and the Outro: 'Say hello to Caliban on guitar, and Ferdiand on drums, and looking very relaxed, Trinculo on vibes...' No wonder Ariel, here played by three women (Nicola Gardner, Simone Saunders and Belinda Everett), sometimes seems more like a girl trio than an ethereal spirit....Yet all this energy comes at a price. Rutter's Prospero has no doubt that he wants vengeance, making his ultimate forgiveness sudden rather than hard-won. There is also little master-servant tension with Ariel....What it lacks in nuance, this production makes up for in the kind of gusto and clarity with which Northern Broadsides has made its name." ~ Ian Johns, The Times, 26 March 2007
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