A blog raveled in randomness
Shakespeare’s plays are meant to be watched and not read and I absolutely agree with the statement. Forget all your prejudices against old Shakespeare’s English because ‘The Tempest’ was a bundle of excitement, comedy and romance that was absolutely relatable to the present audience. The reconstructed Globe theatre gives us a unique theatre experience that (I believe) no other theatres can offer, and the amazingly talented actors and actresses pulled me into a fantastical dimension of magic spells and mythical creatures that I hoped would go on forever. The simplicity of the design and music complemented the complicated characters involving betraying royal families, loyal servants and shallow minded fools. I recommend everyone to go watch a Shakespeare play if time allows because other than Shakespeare being a prominent figure in English history, the plays are hilarious and thought provoking by intertwining various characters with different motivations in life. Standing in the yard for about two hours is nothing when watching a wonderful play like ‘The Tempest’!
Like other performances I have seen in London, I do not look at the cast list or performance reviews. So when I saw Colin Morgan on stage as Ariel, my eyes glittered and the ends of my lips stretched so far away from each other to this pleasant surprise. I was a big fan of the BBC series ‘Merlin’ (2008-2012) and was quiet distracted from my high school work. I got so excited because I never thought that I would actually see him in person during my study abroad experience! Aside from fangirling over the appearance of Colin Morgan, I was very impressed by memorable actings from all the performers and understood later (by reading their biographies on the programme) why they were such experienced and talented actors and actresses.
Prospero (portrayed by Roger Allam) was the Duke of Milan until he was usurped by Alonso (by Peter Hamilton Dyer), King of Naples, and Alonso’s brother Sebastian (William Mannering). Prospero and his daughter Miranda (Jessie Buckley) were casted to an island, and a faithful courtier Gonzalo (Pip Donaghy) gave magic books to Prospero before their leave. The knowledge of books helped Prospero to rule over the native Caliban (James Garnon) and spirit Ariel (Colin Morgan). But after twelve years, a shipwreck (due to a storm conjured by Prospero) happens to Alonso and King’s son Ferdinand (Joshua James). They are separated in the island as well as the Alonso’s drunken butler Stephano (Sam Cox) and jester Trinculo (Trevor Fox). Ferdinand goes through trials of Prospero as he tries to win the hand of Miranda. This dense storyline consists of intertwining desire of various people with different motivations in the island. Some intentions are shallow supported with accidental encounters and some intentions are wicked supported with the thirst of power. Some characters want to affirm affection whilst others avert their loyalty for their own selfish gains. In the end, everyone is blessed, forgiven and freed, which gives a happy ending to the story for most of the characters who gets a second chance in life with their family, all forgiven and all loved.
Moments of the play were hightened as I stood so close to the stage in the yard for about two hours, and the actors would come up and down the stage. They sometimes use the entraces of the theatre, so the audience in the yard had to make way for the sinking ship or drowning men in Act I. It is a short interaction, but it is a memorable one since the actors talk about the audience if they bumped into one while coming up stage and does not act as if we were invisible. It was an open theatre where annoyingly airplanes and helicopters interfered with the actors’ speeches, but it was an intimate performance where I saw the faces of the performers and musicians on the second floor of the stage only a few steps away. The giggles started with the appearance of the drunken butler Stephano as he mistakes two people, Caliban and Trinculo, under a blanket as a monster. This trio was hilarious! Throughout the play, they never failed to bring laughter to the audience. Another humorous character was Ferdinand as his delicate figure tries to succeed in following the cumbersome trials of Prospero and marry Miranda. I was laughing so hard when Prospero arranged a dance with a help from Arial and they both try so hard to break off the couple from dancing. In such a comical way, the play showed the flaws of all characters–from protective fathers to drunk people.
There were also terrifying moments when Arial disguised himself as an enormous vulture as the luscious table turned into rotten bits. This is the Globe theatre, so the simplicity of the design gave a unique representation of what Shakespeare plays might have been like. Three actors held on to man-made wings that folded and unfolded as the vulture was threatening the audience with its enormous wingspand. Colin Morgan wore a vulture mask as well as footwear that made him elevate from the ground. It was incredible! From the hungry skeleton dogs to the wedding ceremony, the props as well as the music did not have over-embellishments that did not destruct the ‘purity’ (in a sense of script and formation) of the play. Musicians well accompanied the play, and the audience clapped along at the end when the actors did a little dance show as a form of taking bows. It had a rustic warm atmosphere where the seatings were round and a small space. While I saw the actors and musicians having fun dancing to the song, everyone in the audience was clapping at the same time on the beat. It was absolutely a unique experience of an open space theatre. I applaud all the staff, actors and musicians who contributed to this wonderful production! Thank you so much!
Shakespeare’s Globe website: http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/