13 July 2010

Stratford, Day 02

Ex post facto... I did not review The Tempest in my earlier post. The artistic direction and set design nicely established the setting and the emotion of the first scenes, although I found the swaying of the sailors in the "tempest" a little overly done. It was also very hard to hear the lines in the first act. Choosing to set Miranda and Prospero at points around the theatre was a good choice, however her cries of "Father" were distracting. Julyana Soelistyo as Ariel, however, expressed the mischeviousness of the sprite with energy throughout the five acts.

Peter Hutt, as Alonso, King of Naples, appeared unaffected throughout much of the performance. His lines were devoid of emotion and bordered on monotone. One wonders if he was feeling under the weather but decided to perform due to the recording of this performance. Trish Lindstrom's Miranda felt too rushed and boisterous to portray a girl marooned on an island with only her father for company. In all, Christopher Plummer, as Prospero, and Lindstrom presented a father-daughter pair all too complicit in their laughter and thoughts. I felt no tension between the 15-year-old girl and the overly aged Prospero.

Caliban (Dion Johnstone), Trinculo (Bruce Dow) and Stefano Geraint Wyn Davies) made amicable companions in the play's comic (and subtly tragic) sub-plot. As a "fishy" Caliban, Johnstone's diatribe against Miranda and Prospero deftly countered what they argue is their island utopia.

An odd bit of staging was the wedding masque in Act IV. The three goddesses appeared to threaten more than bless and used opera as the vehicle for their lines.

In all, the play was a success, mostly due to Plummer's charismatic presence, the comic actors, and the sub-plots of usurpation from both Antonio and Caliban.

So, apparently no camera came with us around Stratford our second day except the one on Turner's cell phone. We took Bella to a dog park and had a picnic lunch on the banks of the Avon. It rained in the evening but cleared up just before we went to the evening performance of As You Like It, which I liked very much, although again some of the stage design seemed frivolous and disconnected from the action in the play.

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