Saturday, June 02, 2007

"The Tempest" - June 2007

Northern Broadsides reputation for innovative productions of Shakespeare was the driving force behind our seeing "The Tempest" at The Citizens. The trademark northern accents were present and worked well enough but were in fact the least innovative aspect of this production by a hugely multi-talented cast.

A quick look at the stage strewn with musical instruments and it was clear this would be something approaching "The Tempest: The Musical". In fact it was somewhere in between a musical and conventional Shakespeare with large portions adapted into song while others, mainly the Prospero segments, were played straight. Many of the cast took turns to play the various instruments including some very interesting work with a double bass. Largely because of the vibrancy of the set pieces the dialogue heavy portions did drag at times and quickly the play's "comic relief" became the most interesting element for me, which is a little unfair as if the whole play had been a plainer production I'd have been perfectly happy with it.

The cast are all strong including director Barrie Rutter as Prospero, Sarah Cattle as Miranda, and a special mention for Tim Barker's Gonzalez. But this show is well and truly stolen by our threesome of Michael Hugo as a Gollum-like Caliban, Simon Holland Roberts as the drunken Stephano an Conrad Nelson as a wonderfully camp Triculo. It was an absolute joy to see these three at the top of their game, and great credit to Rutter for giving them the licence to give such crowd-pleasing performances even at the risk of putting his own performance in the shade.

I'd happily see future productions although I might be picky as to which plays.