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The Tempest

by William Shakespeare

Directed by David Pearce

The Rose Theatre, Bankside

5 - 30 October 2010











A review by Bernie Whelan for EXTRA! EXTRA!

Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds me thought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
The Tempest 3.2.148-156


For anyone who loves Shakespeare, and it's safe to assume that the audience at The Rose is self-selecting in this regard, The Tempest is a magical play. Set on an island far apart from the known world full of sudden storms, sprites, witchcraft and wonder, it is often regarded as Shakespeare's farewell to the London stage through the character of Prospero. It seems to resolve some of the issues which vexed the other works such as filial conflict, the relationship between fathers and daughters and the production and containment of subversion and disorder. In the characters of Ariel and Caliban we have the extremes of mind and body dualism personified. It is endlessly suggestive, being the most popular of Shakespeare's plays to be adapted for Restoration audiences and interpreted in more recent times as a postcolonial play, where Caliban's curses are those of a native supplanted by the tyrant Prospero. So the cast at The Rose theatre had their work cut out, anticipation for the play to begin was fevered, with many of us straining forward for our favourite lines and one woman breaking into spontaneous applause several times in the first act.

Unfortunately, Caliban's wonderful speech 'The isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not...that when I waked, I cried to dream again' was omitted, a great mistake because its poetry allows Caliban his humanity. However, the star of the cast was definitely Damian Dudkewicz as a golem like Caliban, on all fours using his considerable skill in mime and physical theatre to give the part the required strangeness. His comic scenes with Gareth Pilkington as Trinculo (doubling up as Alonso) and Richard Ward as Stephano (also Gonzalo and Boatswain) were hilarious - all three actors stole the show with their exuberant drunken revelry. I found the scenes with Prospero (Robert Carretta) and Miranda (Suzanne Marie) less convincing but found Damian Cooper utterly charming as a cheeky young Ariel, eager to earn his freedom by cleverly orchestrating the other characters according to Prospero's will. The magical aspects of the play were performed to great effect by him and Eleanor Cope as Iris and Emilia Reid as Ceres/Juno who sang the original Shakepearean songs in beautiful harmony and gave the play its necessary ethereal atmosphere.

The set is basic at the Rose as space is limited while excavation continues. However, I really enjoyed this performance of The Tempest and would recommend it as a rare chance to see this poetic and evocative tribute to the magic art of theatre itself brought to life at the very site where Shakespeare is first known to have trod the boards himself.




The Rose Theatre
 Bankside, 56 Park Street, London SE1 9AS
Tuesday 5th to Saturday 30th October (no Monday performances): 7:30pm (Sun 3:00pm)
Tickets £10.00 / £8.00 concessions
Box Office: 020 7261 9565


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