The Tempest | Mixed Salad ProductionsLeft - Sharon Malujlo and Peter Davies. Cover - Nicole Rutty, Bronwyn Ruciak and Todd Clappis. Photos - David Wilson

Mixed Salad’s modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest fails to cast a magical spell.

The magical atmosphere of The Tempest is its most potent force, threading its way throughout the entire story and adding romance and intrigue. Spells and enchantments are wielded as weapons of power adding to the suspense.

Director Sally Putnam has taken the classic play from its original setting and modernized it to a beach and various locations on a tropical island not far from Australia. Somewhere along the way the magic has been lost.

Adelaide’s Star Theatre stage has been transformed with two squares of sand in front, and a boardwalk leading to the raised stage. The visual effect is striking, but this is where the effectiveness stops.

This version of The Tempest is disparate, lacking the sparkle of Shakespeare’s great work and creating confusion.

It is difficult to discern exactly what the modernization is attempting to depict. It is also difficult to discern the storyline and the delineation between characters. Those familiar with the work may be able to guess, but others need to read the program notes. Costuming does little to add clarity.

The cast manages the Shakespearean language well but the pace is cumbersome.

Peter Davies seems to lumber awkwardly through the role of Prospero, failing to establish a strong presence and therefore doing little to portray the underpinning grief, torment and rage of this central figure. He is perhaps handcuffed by the lack of supernatural powers which were endowed on Shakespeare’s Prospero in the original version. For instance in Shakespeare’s version Prospero relied on supernatural spirits to follow and manipulate those on the island. In this rendition he uses very grey and ordinary surveillance equipment.

Sharon Malujio fares better as Ariel, his assistant but also struggles to portray the unexplained in a modern setting. Gender switch aside, as an assistant rather than a servant spirit the power of the language of her charms is somewhat dissipated.

Oliver de Rohan and Carla Hardie are sweet and innocent in the romantic roles of Ferdinand and Miranda, but their flibbertigibbet antics are more like two playful children, rather than passionate lovers yearning to be entwined.

The comic characters fare better with Dave Simms delightfully grotesque as Caliban. Less malicious than the original, Simm’s Caliban is a beer-drinking ignorant slob and elicits laughs.

Todd Clappis is dutifully drunk and disorderly as Stephano and a modernized ditzy duo Trinny (Bronwyn Ruciak) and Suzanna (Nicole Rutty) slavishly follow his every teetering step, adding humour.

The conclusion of Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a happy one with rites of passage having been navigated, power struggles resolved and past misdemeanors forgiven. The play is a vehicle for life lessons. Perhaps the biggest lesson of all is that we all need a little magic!

Mixed Salad Productions presents
The Tempest
by William Shakespeare

Director Sally Putnam

Star Theatre One, 145 Sir Donald Bradman Drive Hilton
Dates: 27 May – 5 June, 2010
Times: Thu - Sat at 8.00pm. Sunset shows: Sun 30 May at 4.00pm and Wed 2 June at 6.30pm

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