FRINGE REVIEW – Tempest, C too

*****

9 – 21 Aug (not 15) 1100 (1210) @ C too, St Columba’s by the Castle

By Danielle Farrow

This production of Shakespeare’s tale about magic and vengeance allayed has all the elements of a fantastical piece. Multi-media is used to enhance Prospero’s knowledge of the island and those on it, to set scenes, and to make the isle “full of noises, sounds and sweet airs”, just as Caliban claims. Costume supplies the colour and differences in status, and most of the cast fully understand what they are saying, Prospero in particular – always a major plus.
 
However . . .
 
Minor minus: in this ‘re-gendered’ production, why feminize the titles and not the obviously masculine names?
 
Major minuses: along with the sounds often being far too loud, overwhelming scenes and words, the quality of acting is strained, many voices are thin and unsupported – sentences broken mid-thought for lack of breath – and some actors merely mouth the lines without any sign of connection to meaning or feeling. Connection to the audience is also more demonstrated than actually established: talking at, not to. Comedy sequences would greatly benefit from tighter direction as well as improved performances.
 
The stronger members of the cast deserve some mention, though: Prospero, acquitting herself fairly engagingly, though not always truthfully; Miranda, showing signs of emotional truth but not yet able to express this fully; Sebastian (another re-gendered in person but not name), who actually commits to her goals and language.
 
So, this is a good-looking production, with some thought in its presentation – though hardly the rather large philosophical and social claims made for it in publicity – but needing, on the whole, more experienced actors for its execution.

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