digital ariel

Mark Quartley as a digital Ariel and Simon Russell Beale as Prospero

The Tempest

The Royal Shakespeare Company

Stratford-upon-Avon

*****

WITH a director who needs no introduction, Gregory Doran’s The Tempest is a remarkable interpretation of Shakespeare’s romance involving themes of sorcery, establishment rule and love.

In a collaboration with Intel, his production merges the traditional theatrical experience with new technologies to deliver a visual treat and emotional story.

The play takes place in a mythical world, ruled over by Prospero, with only his daughter and nymphs being the sole inhabitants. A sudden shipwreck means that new faces have entered Prospero’s realm with the audience witnessing their intrusion on the island.

Doran does well to establish the parallels between Shakespeare’s world and the political climate we live in today. Heavy themes of oppression are looked at and it is an interesting interpretation given the current shift in politics we are currently facing.

It could be said that Doran’s Prospero inhabits the actions of the government of today, with heavy domination over those most weak. Caliban is the pinnacle of this thought. With a striking costume that forced actor Joe Dixon to constantly hunch over with chains wrapped around his middle, he could possibly be an interpretation of those most vulnerable in society today, such as the disabled. Dixon portrayed this relationship beautifully. Dixon’s tenderness and slightly helpless take on the role makes for a new way of thinking about the relationship between the establishment and the public.

Every element of this production is perfect. Doran’s impeccable attention to detail makes the audience believe in true magic at the hands of the cast. The sequence of Prospero conjuring nymphs for mirandaMiranda and Ferdinand was an unforgettable moment. However, the most thrilling and wonderful surprise comes within the character of Ariel.

Utilising technology to the highest degree, the product of Prospero’s magic within the character of Ariel was a first in RSC history. This production is in collaboration with Intel, so artistic expertise linked with a technical knowledge sees that Ariel is both digital and human.

Jenny Rainsford as Miranda

Played by Mark Quarterly, he takes the physical form and executes the best performance.

Projections of holographic images were displayed, turning him into a magical fairy within the shipwrecked world.

The inspiring delivery of Quarterly’s remarkable performance is beautiful in itself, paving the way to a relationship of unconditional love towards Prospero, yet desperate for freedom. He captures an emotional sprit while still maintaining a nymph-like persona with strong balletic movements.

Each member of the cast gives spectacular performances that instantly transport us into the fantastic story of the ‘brave new world’. The mighty Simon Ruddell Beale is a fabulous Prospero, never shying away from the pride and anger felt by the king of the shipwrecked island. His love for daughter Miranda creates beautiful moments throughout and his journey makes for a breath-taking ending when he finally gives up sorcery. Jenny Rainsford’s Miranda and Daniel Easton’s Ferdinand are magnificent in their portrayal as the young lovers, fighting against a proud father.

Stephen Brimson Lewis’ design is wonderful to behold. The stage is framed with wooden shafts that the nymphs could climb and use in their playfulness. It gave the impression that we were washed away underground, with only the remnants of the ship as a structure. Impressive images were projected on to the back that captured each beautiful moment, constantly reminding the audience of a completely different world built up of Prospero’s wizardry. Costumes are also a superb addition, especially when we see the stories of Juno, Ceres and all other spirits.

With a combination of Doran’s artistic genius and new technology, this production of The Tempest is a most engaging and progressive piece of theatre from the RSC. Doran’s vision is artistically enhanced by cast and creative team leaving the audience to wonder if the magical world might just be real.  To 21-01-17 (Stratford) 30-06-17 to 18-08-17 (Barbican, London)

Elizabeth Halpin

07-12-16

The Tempest will be shown in selected cinemas on Wednesday evening, 11-01-17. Click HERE for details of cinemas near you.  

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