This reviewer has a few pet hates when it comes to productions and acting, here are two: Shakespearean lines broken with multiple pauses that defeat meaning, let alone interest, and demonstration (in any type of play) that is empty and unconnected to intention and feeling. There are actors within this production of Shakespeare’s Tempest who, despite physical and comic skills, are guilty of committing these ‘heinous crimes’, and some scenes – which are otherwise humorous or have been directed with considerable aplomb – need work on pacing to avoid the time dragging. Hopefully the director will be able to keep working on these aspects as, in truth . . .
Squeaky Door Production Company’s Tempest is a very fine show and it is the direction that primarily makes it so. From the opening tableau through choreographies, rousing music, inspired humour, some grand characterisations (particularly in the often ‘soppy’ roles of Miranda and Ferdinand) and fresh angles on the text, to highly entertaining curtain calls, the audience is entertained and thrilled.
In this story of a shipwrecked Magician-Prince and his daughter dealing with their troubles and those that have done them wrong, the elemental and animal influences work beautifully in both the voices and bodies of the players, and both colourful costume and primitive set help in clarity of place and person. The physicality which some companies claim on the strength (read weakness) of a few set pieces is here woven throughout the play and present in each actor’s performance, an achievement of particularly high order.
Interesting relationships, such as those of the young lovers and of Prospero with his brother, with the excellently embodied Caliban and, especially, with Ariel – this spirit being played with feeling, physical prowess and exceptional voice-work – add a freshness to a play fairly often performed. If pacing could be upped, with certain actors learning to drive through the intention and root the feeling, as mentioned above, this production could increase its rating easily.
Squeaky Door’s The Tempest puts to sea with style, joyous physical exuberance and a most welcome freshness of approach – catch it before it puts into port elsewhere.
By Danielle Farrow
8-13 August, 19:00 (20:30) @ theSpace on Niddry Street