Mr Crump has provided the following review of the recent Seniors trip to Stratford-upon-Avon:
Despite the dire weather forecast on Thursday, we experienced no tempests, just a bit of sleety drizzle, as we set out with a large group of seniors on a voyage to Stratford to see the RSC production of The Tempest.
Generally reckoned to be Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest is a fantasy, a romance with monsters, magicians and fairies, as well as a shipwreck and a love story to boot. It is also traditionally seen as Shakespeare’s poignant farewell to the theatre before he retired, a wealthy gentleman, to the gardens and orchards of New Place, his grand Tudor house in Stratford.
The play centres on the erstwhile Duke of Milan, Prospero, who was treacherously kidnapped by his brother and left in a leaky boat on the open sea with his young daughter, Miranda. Twelve years later, as the play begins, we learn that he is marooned on a desert island – and that his enemies have fortuitously sailed past, only to be magically shipwrecked on the isle and brought within his power, where he intends to exact revenge….
The production has been hailed as ground-breaking in its use of digital technology and it certainly delivered in terms of visual impact. The stage was a huge wrecked ship and stunning projection techniques turned this into an island shore, a forest and a terrifying shipwreck at different moments in the play.
It was a dazzling spectacle of colour, movement and ‘wondrous sweet music’ (the play is the only one for which we have a contemporary musical score).
Ariel, the airy spirit who serves Prospero’s magic designs, had a breathtaking digital avatar projected on invisible black net screens on stage so that at times the play had the impact of a sci-fi movie.
The play has a happy ending and we all left with the words of the epilogue imprinted on our minds, spoken to the audience by a now magic-free Prospero – ‘As you your sins would pardoned be/Let your indulgence set me free’. It was a powerful end to a gripping production that showed anything but ‘rough magic’ in bringing Shakespeare’s last magical tale to life.