The Tempest (2007): Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
PrThe Tempest (2007)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Russell Dixon (Alonso); Oliver Kieran-Jones (Ferdinand); Pete Postlethwaite (Prospero); Steven Robertson (Ariel); Samantha Robinson (Miranda); Simon Trinder (Caliban).
This production ran from 23 May - 7 July 2007.
This Tempest included what was termed in the programme "Spirits of the Island", which were played (via recording) by various Royal Exchange alumni including Brenda Blethyn, Tom Courtenay, Robert Glenister, David Horovitch, Paterson Joseph, Robert Lindsay, Andy Serkis, Michael Sheen, Maxine Peake and the Huddersfield Singers.
"'Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,' counsels Caliban, and in Greg Hersov's mesmerising Tempest, which finds Pete Posthlethwaite on quietly triumphant form as Prospero, those noises are ravishing. The Exchange's compact, in-the-round space - an island in its own right - has become a sort of giant seashell in which can be heard a heavenly mingle of tropical birdsong, roaring surf and unearthly strings. Together, Hersov and his sound designer, Peter Rice, work 21st-century wonders. Here, it's possible for Ariel to break into hushed song and for the sound to be picked up and swept round the theatre, amplified, enriched and eerily echoing....That said, at the start, when Alonso and his suited, shades-wearing attendants lounge in deckchairs, swilling cocktails to Hawaiian guitar strains, it looks as though Hersov's desire to let us hear the often drowned-out storm scene has come at too kitsch a price....The cast trust in Shakespeare's language to weave its spell. None more so than Postlethwaite, who in a performance as unassuming as it is commanding lets you hear Prospero think. This is no grandstanding magus: padding around barefooot, first in a dressing gown, later in a sarong, the actor has the air of an elderly martial arts guru, frail yet indestructable. Just the intense way he holds his wooden stave in a horizontal position is enough to give Steven Robertson's lithe, scrawny Ariel and Simon Trinder's fabulously athletic Caliban the jitters." ~ Dominic Cavendish, "Prospero works a very modern magic", Daily Telegraph, 30 Ma7 2007
"Earlier magic scenes work far better, and the use of unearthly music (by Arun Ghosh) is exquisite." ~ Jeremy Kingston, "The calm before the storm hints at the magic to come", The Times, 31 May 2007
"Caliban, by tradition a foreshadowing of colonialism, is here a rather engaging pet in Simon Trinder's Tiggerish portrayal. Director Greg Hersov dispenses with all visible spirits except for Ariel, who is played with a Scots accent by Steven Robertson. His extraordinary singing technique, combined with Arun Ghosh's haunting music is shockingly effective." ~ Robert Gore-Langton, Sunday Telegraph, 3 June 2007
"Simon Trinder's gruff Caliban is less monstrous than most." ~ Lynne Walker, The Independent, 4 June 2007, in Theatre Record 2007, Issue 11
"If you were to come across a gang of expensively tailored men with shades, wires and shoulder holsters becoming increasingly disorientated on a beach, you might be forgiven for assuming you had tuned in to the latest cult TV series. It certainly seems to have been Greg Hersov's intention to produce a radical, 21st-century Tempest for the Lost generation. There is some justification for this approach. The Tempest is a social experiment conducted in real time...and the backbiting, petty vendettas and arguments over a limited supply of alcohol all seem familiar....[Postlethwaite's Prospero's] dealings with Steven Robertson's Ariel and Simon Trinder's Caliban displays the tenderness and cruelty that are flip sides of the same unstable personality." ~ Alfred Hickling, "Prospero takes the prize on Shakespeare's Love Island", The Guardian, 31 May 2007
"Designer Ashley Martin-Davies's costumes are cartoonishly simplistic - Italian nobles: pinstripe suits and dark glasses; Prospero: a green, silk dressing gown, Noel Coward-style; Caliban: ragged Huck Finn trousers; Miranda: a man's torn shirt, bare legs and frilly knickers; Ariel: a floaty white shirt, bare legs and sensible knickers....Caliban's prostrations before the drunken shipwrecked servants (ably played by Trevor Cooper and [Toby] Sedgwick) were not so funny. Simon Trinder played the 'slave' with great physical presence and an engaging ineffectualness that softened his lewdness towards Miranda and his violence towards Prospero." ~ Clare Brennan, "Not quite stormy enough", Observer, 3 June 2007