A Guide to Modern Playwrights, Plays, and Productions
The Tempest

Michael Boyd directs a production that is not only spectacular, but also thoughtful and imaginative. In the arena-like Roundhouse, the action takes place on ledges all around and in the aisles, bringing the actors to the audience.  The action moves swiftly from the opening scene of the raging tempest, with the King of Napes suspended from on high as the mariners climb and descend the rigging, to the quiet ending as Prospero and Caliban silently confront each other. Within the course of a day, evildoers who had wronged Prospero are punished and then forgiven, true love surmounts obstacles, a murder plot is thwarted, the sprite Ariel achieves freedom, and the island is left to native Caliban.

Malcolm Storry is outstanding as Prospero, exploring many facets of this complex  character, who guides the events more easily than he can control his own passions, and who must, with difficulty, forgive those whom he thirsts to punish in revenge for his banishment.  Brian Protheroe and Tom Beard are studies in evil as the brothers of Prospero and the King, while on the comic level, serving-men Trinculo (Simon Gregor) and the drunken Stephano (Roger Frost), instigated by Caliban, attempt to overthrow Prospero and seize power.  

Among the many inventive interpretations of familiar scenes is the Harpy’s banquet, which turns into a chilling, bloody orgy; the acrobats on ropes miming an erotic encounter in the wedding masque, and at the end, Miranda’s wonder at the “brave new world” and its “goodly people,” while Prospero dryly comments of these thieves and usurpers, “’tis new to thee.”  And the interpretations of Ariel and Caliban are equally imaginative.  Kananu Kirimi is a diminutive, dancing, androgynous sprite, while Geff Francis brings dignity and poetry to his rebellious Afro-Caribbean Caliban.  As the old Gonzalo who saved Prospero and his magic books, Jerome Willis effectively depicts optimistic goodness surrounded by cynical evildoers.