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The Tempest review at Greenwich Theatre London

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There are more songs in The Tempest than in any other of Shakespeare’s plays. But giving protagonist status to a musical mix ranging from sea shanty to country and western results in a production more mundane than magical.

From the outset, it fails to drive home significance and, for all the cymbals and drum-beats, the storm that kicks off the action is underwhelming.

The first meeting of Ferdinand (Matt Connor) and Miranda (Sarah Cattle) fails to establish any miraculous chemistry and their Northern vowels, characteristic of the production and potentially a strength, undermine their romantic status.

Equally Prospero, played by Barrie Rutter, who also directs, convinces us only that he is down-to-earth and tetchy, not that he is a great magician.

As in many a Tempest, the comic sub-plot livens up the performance, although it fails to bring the house down. Conrad Nelson, also the composer, is a camp, Liverpudlian Trinculo and Simon Holland Roberts is a suitably nonsensical Stephano.

The most rousing moment is Caliban’s jazzy rebellion, performed by the nimble Michael Hugo. At least as noble as savage, he might have been best cast as Ariel, who is played by not one but three less than dainty actresses (Nicola Gardner, Simone Saunders and Belinda Everett).

Production Information

Greenwich Theatre, London, March 20-24, then touring

Barrie Rutter
William Shakespeare
Northern Broadsides in partnership with the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Cast includes
Simeon Truby, Phil Corbitt, Barrie Rutter, Mark Stratton, Matt Connor, Tim Barker, Peter Toon, Michael Hugo, Conrad Nelson, Simon Holland Roberts, Sarah Cattle, Nicola Gardner, Simone Saunders, Belinda Everett
Running time
2hrs 30mins

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