Reviewed by Tony Peters
Cast (in order of appearance)
Prospero – Nicholas Farr
Ariel – Nicola Foxfield
Alonso – Richard Lynson
Antonio – Nicholas Maxwell
Gonzalo – Adam Samuel
Sebastian – George Collie
Miranda – Jennifer Elizabeth Cooper
Caliban – Mackenzie Thorpe
Ferdinand – Ed Sheridan
Trinculo – Jack Berry
Stephano – Andrew Wragg
There’s something pleasingly traditional about watching Shakespeare in a pub: the audience quaffing ale, much as the Elizabethans would have done, as the actors strut and fret their hour upon the stage. Although I’m pleased to say that the audience watching Green Girl Productions interpretation of The Tempest at Barons Court Theatre were a lot less rowdy than their ancestors were prone to be.
This is Green Girl’s first foray into Shakespeare, and while it’s an interesting take on the Bard’s final play, some uneven performances and an often lack of clarity in the speeches prevent it from being wholly successful.
Nicholas Farr takes the pivotal role of Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan who suffered treachery at the hands of his jealous brother Antonio and was cast adrift with his daughter Miranda (Jennifer Elizabeth Cooper). Father and daughter spend 12 years on an island in the company of the spirit Ariel (a wonderfully animated Nicola Foxfield) and Caliban (Mackenzie Thorpe), who Prospero uses as a slave.
Using magic powers, Prospero contrives to have Antonio and his entourage shipwrecked on the island and sets about taking his revenge and securing Miranda’s rightful inheritance. While in a parallel plot, Caliban conspires with two drunkards, Trinculo (Jack Berry) and Stephano (a very funny display of physical comedy from Andrew Wragg) to free himself from Prospero’s tyranny.
Farr gives us a brooding Prospero, but such is his intensity and stillness that we’re never totally convinced of his power and that here is a man who can, with the aid of sorcery, do pretty much whatever he wants.
It’s a nice touch to have Antonio and his men suited-up like swaggering City wide-boys and there’s nothing wrong with Shakespeare in modern dress, but it doesn’t sit too well with Miranda and Ariel who are in what can only be described as more traditional costume. In the end we’re rather left wondering what point, if any, is being made.
The Tempest plays at Barons Court Theatre until 17 February 2013.