23 April – 18 August 2013
This summer has been a particularly spectacular one for The Globe, but by far the most impressive performance available was the Shakespeare Drama Company’s version of The Tempest. Due to its supernatural elements, the play lends itself to any director keen to make full use of special effects and props, and Jeremy Herrin has done a beautiful job.
From the very beginning the audience were utterly absorbed in the multiple layers of action, torn between watching a large wooden model ship sail through the sea of heads in the pit, and the intense drama onstage as the cast depicted the panic of the crew facing shipwreck in a terrible storm.
From here, Herrin had Ariel drop through the ceiling of the stage, a feast table burst into flames and made the audience fall in love with the play in a breathtakingly romantic moment where white rose petals were tossed from the upper rows of seating and drifted into the pit.
The cast, almost all of whom recognisable from film and television dramas, were faultless, and the company has clearly gone to great lengths to ensure that each character is utterly unique. Ariel was played by Colin Morgan, best known for his role as the title character in Merlin, moved lightly and effortlessly around the stage, easily convincing us that he really is invisible. Roger Allam as Prospero was fatherly and wise in an almost God-like way, his daughter Miranda (Jessie Buckley) was portrayed as innocent and raw, but conveyed a sense of wildness not explored in previous versions of the play. Ferdinand (Joshua James) was naive and charming in his awkwardness, and Sam Cox made an exceptionally hilarious Stephano.
However, the most impressive character of all was unquestionably Caliban played by James Garnon. The most repulsive character to appear on The Globe’s stage, Caliban was painted head to toe in earthy orange and red paint wearing only a loincloth, and he successfully evoked fear in the beginning of the play, even spitting on the head of a girl in the audience. Yet by the end of the performance you couldn’t help but pity him for the way he had been abused and mocked by every other member of the cast; a skill only a talented actor could achieve.
So in all, an incredible and hilarious performance of a complicated play, one of such stuff that dreams are made on