Reviewed by Tony Peters
Director Jeremy Herrin returns to the Globe Theatre for the first time since his critically acclaimed production of Much Ado About Nothing in 2011 to open the new season with this thoroughly entertaining take on Shakespeare’s last play.
Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, has been betrayed by Alonso, King of Naples and cast adrift with his young daughter Miranda. For twelve years the pair have lived on an island where Prospero has used his magic powers to rule over the native Caliban and the spirit Ariel.
When Prospero discovers that Alonso is passing the island with his son Ferdinand and members of his court, he conjures up a massive storm, shipwrecking the men who caused his downfall and plotting revenge.
Following the storm, the group becomes fractured with Alonso believing his son Ferdinand has drowned. But Ferdinand has not perished and he meets Miranda and falls in love with her.
On another part of the island Alonso’s butler and the jester Trinculo form a pact with the “monster” Caliban and plan to kill Prospero so that Caliban can be free.
Meanwhile, in the King’s party, Alonso also faces treachery as Sebastian plots to murder him and take the crown.
Herrin plays it for laughs a lot of the way and in Roger Allam as Prospero he has found the perfect actor to carry it off. Allam is magnificent — big and commanding in the dramatic speeches, while displaying a world-weary droll humour in the lighter moments.
The scenes between him, Jessie Buckley as Miranda and Joshua James as Ferdinand are a delight. James is like an excited puppy with his new love, while Buckley, in her first role since graduating from RADA, is a playful and tomboyish Miranda.
There’s further fun to be had from the triumvirate of Caliban (James Garnon), Stephano (Sam Cox) and a rough-and-ready Geordie Trinculo (Trevor Fox) who bounce off each other superbly.
Perhaps it’s because things come so much to life when these two groups are on stage that the scenes where Sebastian plots against Alonso felt a little flat and didn’t really contain enough atmosphere of threat.
Drifting through proceedings all the while is this ethereal presence of the spirit Ariel, beautifully played by Colin Morgan who performs with a graceful agility and a suitably enigmatic demeanour.
When the weather behaves its self, the Globe is one of the jewels in London’s theatrical crown and on this fine spring evening, terrific performances along with Herrin’s superb staging made this one of the best Tempests I have seen in a long time.
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Jeremy Herrin
Roger Allam Prospero
Jessie Buckley Miranda
Colin Morgan Ariel
Jason Baughan Antonio
Sam Cox Stephano
James Garnon Caliban
Trevor Fox Trinculo
Pip Donaghy Gonzalo
Peter Hamilton Dyer Alonso
Joshua James Ferdinand
William Mannering Sebastian