REVIEW: The Tempest (London Theatre Workshop)

Tempest-010Gender blind productions of Shakespeare’s plays seem a dime a dozen these days, and can go one of two ways. In the case of the London Theatre Workshop’s production of the Tempest, I left very underwhelmed. Having not seen Shakespeare’s final piece before, I was looking forward to getting to grips with the complex characters and story that I had heard so much about. Unfortunately, I left none the wiser.

Any theatre enthusiast will know that a good production of the Tempest rests on the commanding presence of Prospero. Unfortunately Karen Mccaffrey did not possess this in her performance. The attempts at the illusion of magic fell flat at every turn as there didn’t seem to be strong intention or direction there. There was a lot of movement in the piece which felt undefined, vague and very unnecessary at times. I love a bit of physical theatre and choreographed movement, but only to further a narrative, not hinder it.

I can’t deny the piece was redeemed with some nice performances from certain cast members. I was instantly impressed by Samantha Beart’s truthful performance of Miranda, then even more taken aback with her clear cut multi rolling as a very amusing Trinculo.

Certainly a stand out performance. Joseph Law’s performance as Ariel also had very impressive moments, much better grasping the surreal moments of magic, and using every part of his body to create his character. Similarly Ruskin Denmark’s Performance as Caliban was wonderfully primal, and had great control of his body and understanding of the verse.

I had expected great things from the London Theatre Workshop, following stellar reviews of its production of ‘Parade’, however the Tempest felt under rehearsed and under directed. As much as I wanted to like this production, I couldn’t forgive the cringey movement sequences. The text is good, stick with that, Mr Shakeapeare knew what he was doing.

Reviewed by Laura Milas
Photo: Cameron Slater Photography