Friday, 28 October 2011

Not a Tempest... just a mild sea breeze...

Who'd have thought sixth form was quite so hard? I feel so useless at having had a two-month (two-month!?) break in blogging - and I can't even blame the first month on school... anyway, after a mixture of laziness, procrastination and multiple English essays (but that's always fun) I'm back, and I'm afraid it is not  good.
Ralph Fiennes is currently starring in Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, directed by Trevor Nunn, and on Friday, we all huddled over there (it was cold) to see how it worked out.
Now I have some big news for you all, so brace yourselves; Ralph has a NOSE. A REAL ONE. And, as well as this shocker, I have more news; a big star does not make a great production. I know, I know, you seasoned theatre goers are all tutting and rolling your eyes and saying 'The girl knows nothing. Nothing. OF COURSE you need more than a big name!' and I do know that, I swear; it's just, well, 'The Tempest was the high point of my week. Seriously, I'd really hyped it up. It was my night out (I'm just so wild) and I came away so... disappointed.
The Tempest is what I would term 'hard' Shakespeare; some of his plays roll off the tongue, and no matter what sort of fool you have directing, they will come out well. The Tempest is no such walk in the park; it has difficult (some half-formed, in my opinion) characters, many different themes, and it is run (mostly) in real time. It's TRICKY.
Take, for instance, Ariel, the spirit who attends on Prospero (played by Fiennes, incase you hadn't guessed). Ariel is usually compared to Puck, the 'merry wanderer of the night' in The Dream, and in this production we very much had that sort of Ariel; spritish, imp-like, full of energy. But where directors tend to make Puck a very masculine character (earthy, you might say), with Ariel, they tend to make him extraordinarily camp. Here, we had an ethereal spirit clad entirely in sky-blue lycra, prone to singing falsetto, and making strange 'airy' noises. When Prospero tortures him by reminding him of his past in imprisonment, he just sort of... twitched. I was not taken by him. At all. Especially the singing.
Nunn seemed to really want to go for the singing in this production; Juno and two other goddesses appeared near the end (Argh, why does Shakespeare bring in these random classical deities?) and regaled us with a very long number... beautifully composed, don't get me wrong, but I was running out of patience.
Miranda was good, but I missed a few jokes due to not being able to see her facial expressions up in the circle, which was a problem that really influenced the evening, I think. Fiennes himself, a much younger Prospero than usual - The Tempest was one of Shakespeare's last plays and it's said he may have written the character for himself - was, surprisingly, hard to watch. Though I'm sure I'm in absolutely no position to tell Trevor Nunn and Fiennes what to do, I thought he was falling into the classic Shakespeare-trap of proclaiming his part, not finding the meaning behind the foreign words. It was all delivered very monochromatically; very slowly, deliberately, deeply. Great for some aspects of Prospero, but not others; he is a complicated man.
Thank God for Nicholas Lyndhurst as the clown; he did his office and made me smile. Caliban (played by Giles Terera) was suitably spitting, twisted, and yet defiant and righteous; a hard character made easy, both to watch and to delve into.
So, once again, I'm sorry for such a long wait... and that my come-back is a lot of moaning! Anyway, give this one a miss. I'll be back with a better one. As one of those many phrases pinched straight from the Tempest says, 'We are such stuff as dreams are made on'; shame Trevor Nunn's dream hasn't quite panned out.

West End Girl x


  1. Just for once I'm not pining because I missed something. Thank you!

  2. I think he should stick to being He Who Should Not Be Named. Anyway, quite good for an amateur show.