This Last Tempest

It’s a deceptively simple concept.  Caliban and Ariel are left together on the Enchanted Island as Prospero sails away.  They have it in their powers to make the island whatever they want, yet they are bounded by their own limitations and the echoes of Prospero’s words and deeds over the previous twelve years.

This production at Contact, from Uninvited Guests and Fuel, starts slowly, Caliban imagining the perfect island.  Ariel needs to learn how to feel – something.  But like any paradise (Lord of the Flies, Garden of Eden) there is temptation and conflict everywhere.  The most fascinating part of this play is the way that their behaviours are influenced by the past actions of those that are no longer there.  It develops well, creating strong emotional impact.  This is a very visual production, with excellent use of lighting, fog, stage props and well chosen live music to enhance the effect.  The intensity grows, the music and lighting become dominant, and the stage image becomes very powerful.

If I have a criticism, the acting in this production can be too restrained.  I wanted more chaos.  True, Caliban whips the audience up with a wonderful piece of baiting, but in the set piece in the second half it was just too structured.  I wanted something like For Thine at Flare.

But beneath the simple premise, there are complex ideas being explored.  Shakespeare’s dialogue is careful chosen to illustrate the key decisions facing Caliban and Ariel, and how their relationship might develop.  In particular, the possibilities of creating a perfect world sits agonisingly close to both, despite the hatred that has existed in the past.  It’s a production that has been very well though through and has great depth.  Very different, and well worth seeing.  And the programme is so beautiful.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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