When it comes to Shakespeare, I’m a traditionalist, and yet I was pleasantly surprised by the modern take on the Melbourne Shakespeare Company’s (MSC) production of The Tempest. Sprinkled with modern pop songs, what is believed to be Shakespeare’s final solo written play, (although new research indicates more and more co-authors on a regular basis) is a tale of revenge, magic, love and comedy.
MSC has delivered an engaging and lively rendition of The Tempest and returned it to it’s intended outdoor setting. While this led to some aural issues, as the performers were not given microphones, the professional cast were able for the most part rely on their vocal projection. In particular Emma Louise Pursey as Prospero resonated throughout the botanical gardens and commanded attention as regally as any queen. Joined by Carly Ellis in her debut role for MSC the pair were a convincing mother and daughter match-up.
Set on a desert island, a vengeful Prospero stranded some 12 years beforehand conjures up a tempest, shipwrecking her brother (or sister in this production) Antonio. Through spells, trickery and manipulation Prospero separates the shipwrecked and begins her odd forms of revenge.
The genius of The Tempest lies in the comedy, and the brilliant casting of May Jasper as Stephano and Jonathan Peck as Trinculo or the “bearers of celestial liquor” together with Mitch Ralston as Caliban keep the action moving and the audience in hysterics with their antics.
The romantic couple; Miranda (Ellis) and Ferdinand (Charlie Sturgeon) are a sweet paring and have many tender moments that are both touching and comical, and sometimes even a little cringe-worthy in the way the new lovers behave.
Melbourne Shakespeare Company’s The Tempest was a joyful production full of humor, music and solid performances from the entire ensemble. Never a dull moment, every beat of the performance was a fantastic tribute to Shakespeare all surrounded by the luscious gardens of St Kilda. Stay tuned for what MSC have next in their season, if The Tempest is anything to go by… they’re only just getting started!!!
Melbourne Shakespeare Company presents
by William Shakespeare
Venue: St. Kilda Botanical Gardens
Dates: 2 – 11 December 2016