(Originally posted on my Blog)

The end of what has been a fantastic year for British theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) have collaborated with INTEL to mark 400 years since Shakespeare’s death. Artistic director Gregory Doran has created a technological masterpiece that is completely new for the theatrical world. I must admit, I went into the RSC with mixed feelings; reviews have certainly been varied, and some people are more accommodating of the use of modern technology than others. As much as I agree that Shakespeare’s texts – and any playwright’s material for that matter – should be the fundamental building blocks for a production, I was incredibly impressed by this innovative interpretation.

The RSC Director of design Stephen Brimson Lewis, alongside INTEL and The Imaginarium Studios, have created real-time interactive effects to embody the character Ariel. Brought to life by actor Mark Quarterly, these effects are used perfectly to enhance Shakespeare’s fantastical spirit, and are balanced superbly with Quarterly’s nimble physical movement.

At the forefront of the cast was Simon Russell-Beale as Prospero.  One of the greatest Shakespearean stage actors alive, Russell-Beale gave a performance that held a subtlety that is so rarely seen on stage. Especially towards the end of act two, Prospero’s famous soliloquys were delivered with a grace and a vulnerability that was utterly transfixing. Other impressive performances included Joe Dixon’s Caliban, Jenny Rainsford’s Miranda and the comic duo Triculo and Stephano, played by Simon Trinder and Tony Jayawardena respectively.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the production was Prospero’s release of Ariel. This exchange was delivered with such simplicity, that it left both Ariel and members of the audience- myself included of course- with tears in their eyes. The flicker of hope in Ariel’s face and the fluttering of his eyelids as he walked slowly, then faster, then began to run towards freedom, encapsulated the play for me.  As an audience member, it is often a moment, a line, or a symbol that is taken away after a performance: when I think of ‘Twelve Angry Men’ I see a knife stabbed in the middle of the table; with ‘Half a Sixpence’ I see a cast of twenty-or-so strumming banjos with giant grins on their faces. With ‘The Tempest’ it is undoubtedly this little moment that has stuck with me. It’s wrapped up in a little box to keep forever.

 

(View Production Photos Here: https://www.rsc.org.uk/the-tempest/production-photos )

Published by Meg Edwards