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The Tempest (Susan Elkin reviews)

Show: The Tempest

Society: London (professional shows)

Venue: Shakespeare’s Globe. 21 New Globe Walk, London, SE1 9DT

Credits: William Shakespeare. Directed by Diane Page

The Tempest

4 stars

This glitzily colourful, faintly futuristic take on The Tempest runs ninety minutes without interval – with plenty of clear verse speaking and space for Shakespeare’s lines to work their magic. “We are the stuff as dreams are made on” and most of the young audience members near me were totally swallowed up by those dreams.

We start with a rather good, low budget storm with loud wailing saxophone and drum from the gallery while Ariel (Charlie Champion) twirls her 180 degree wings and the rest of the cast of ten fall and stumble as they fight for their lives at sea.

David Hartley then gives us an authoritative but quietly understated Prospero. Bea Svistunenko (who doubles as Trinculo) is pleasing as Miranda and funny in her first encounter with Ferdinand (Azan Ahmed) and later his fellow travellers. Emma Manton is strong as Alonso who believes her son drowned and finds the right bearing for a modern, trouser-suited queen. I don’t quite understand why Archie Rush’s Caliban is dressed in a shiny red puffer jacket and sparkly quasi-bathing hat although he – the enslaved and abused indigenous inhabitant of the island – seems a lot more human and poignant than usual which is both appropriate and topical.

On the whole this is, then, a perfectly decent 3-star show. It’s the stonkingly good integral signing which gets it the fourth star. Clare Edwards and William Grint are woven into the action – standing beside characters and communicating words, feelings and plot. Both fine actors themselves, they interact with the cast sometimes becoming a sort of alter-ago for the character they are signing with at any given moment. They should, in my view, have been credited in large print alongside the actors in the programme not tucked away in the middle of a page about creatives – although they appear in only two performances in the run. I was delighted to have caught this particular one.

This production of The Tempest is the seventeenth in the Playing Shakespeare With Deutsche Bank series, a project which has been in place since 2007. It allows groups from state schools in London and Birmingham to see a Shakespeare play free of charge. 293,277 students have so far benefited from this experience. Yes – despite the (justified) doom, gloom and handwringing – there are still some excellent things happening in this industry.


First published by Sardines:


Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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