Review: The Tempest

THE tempest Royal Haymarket Theatre, near Piccadilly 3/5

Trevor Nunn’s version of the Bard’s last play will delight those who like their Shakespeare classical. The production, which has already pre-sold �1m worth of tickets, selects the magical angle of the plot and ploughs through with it at the expense of some of the more contemporary themes.

Ralph Fiennes is, at best, original and, at worst, disorienting. There’s no doubt that the much-revered actor has passion in his portrayal of Prospero as a sensitive and tortured soul – but, at times, this hampers his delivery of the verse and leaves confusion in place of character.

The rest of the cast perform to different degrees. Some of the comedic scenes fall completely flat, while others satisfy. Nicholas Lyndhurst and Clive Wood excel in their portrayals of, perhaps, the most comic characters Trinculo and Stefano, while the love between Miranda and Ferdinand is one of the more convincing relationships.

If a production can be judged by one scene, in this case, it is the one where Prospero calls upon Juno to bless his daughter Miranda and her husband-to-be Ferdinand. Nunn’s version sees the three goddesses as white-gowned floating visions, singing to the couple. To my left, one woman was crying with laughter, while, to my right, another was immersed completely. Two rows ahead, someone had left during the interval, possibly unable to take any more magic.

Similarly, the portrayal of Ariel as a lycra-clad nymph provoked polar reactions.

The end to The Tempest comes when Prospero disposes of his magical power and requests that the audience release him with the power of their applause. This version saw Fiennes walk off stage to a deafening silence after this line, before half the audience gave a standing ovation on his return. Perhaps the audience wanted to wait for the traditional time to applaud in a production. Or perhaps they were confused.

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