The Shakespeare Society bring The Tempest to Antwerp Mansion, reviewed by Anuli Changa
Directed by Jack Waterman and assistant director El Royle, The Tempest follows the story of Prospero (Georgia Carney), the rightful Duke of Milan, and his daughter Miranda (Emma Hill). They are banished to sea following betrayal by Prospero’s brother Antonio (Tom Bass), and now live on an island.
Prospero rescues a sprite, Ariel (Harriet Taylor), who had been imprisoned by the witch Sycorax. Ariel is now bound to serve Prospero, but desperately wishes to be free.
The final inhabitant of the island is Caliban (Daisy Shuttleworth), the child of Sycorax and the devil, who is also unwillingly enslaved by Prospero. Following Prospero conjuring a storm to bring his enemies to him, comedic chaos ensues.
This performance dealt well with the multiple subplots of the play arising from Prospero’s storm, which can easily be confused. From the king’s son, Ferdinand (Nick Kane) falling in love with Miranda, to the comical duo of the court jester Trinculo (Gabrielle Kirk) and the butler Stefano (Emily Fitzpatrick), there is a lot going on to keep you entertained.
Kirk and Fitzpatrick were a fun comedy pair as they got drunk on beer from New Zealand Wines, sang chart toppers and plotted to kill Prospero with Caliban. The work done on the physicality of the ‘non-human’ characters of Ariel and Caliban was very effective and enhanced by some minimalistic but sophisticated makeup.
Particularly, the relationship portrayed between Prospero (Carney) and Ariel (Taylor) was beautiful and very believable; the affection was clear, and the moment Ariel was set free carried great poignancy.
A haunting and psychedelic atmosphere was created with live music inspired by, and including songs from, David Bowie. Use of live music definitely enhanced this performance of The Tempest, beginning with the opening of ‘Life on Mars’ sung largely a cappella by Daisy Shuttleworth and leading into a harrowing storm sequence by the band, and accompanied by strobe lighting.
Productions at The Globe often include live music, but this version had the unique quality of marrying rock, classical and funk (music arranged by Madeleine Brooks). Although the music was at some points a little too loud, it was such an entertaining addition and often portrayed the feeling on stage so well that you didn’t mind missing a sentence or two.
Antwerp was an ambitious and unorthodox venue, and it was impressive what was achieved with some fabric and fairy lights. A comparatively light-hearted Shakespeare play (due to the lack of body count) interestingly interpreted and well performed!