Search
Get a personalised letter from Santa

The Tempest, RSC at Barbican, review: ‘Beale is powerful, but projections stall and distract’

PUBLISHED: 14:24 12 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:24 12 July 2017

Jenny Rainsford as Miranda and Daniel Easton as Ferdinand with centre Simon Russell Beale as Prospero. Picture: Topher McGrilli

Jenny Rainsford as Miranda and Daniel Easton as Ferdinand with centre Simon Russell Beale as Prospero. Picture: Topher McGrilli

Archant

it’s telling that when Beale steps into the spotlight to directly deliver Shakespeare’s farewell to the stage it’s the night’s least gimmicky yet most affecting moment

The big noise about Gregory Doran’s sometimes rocky production are the special effects and motion-capture Aeriel created by Andy Serkis’ Imaginarium Studios.

But while the kaleidoscopic projections which flood the Barbican stage can summon a raging storm, sylvan glade or diabolic vision, they also stall and distract from the project at hand.

Ultimately the play’s the thing, and of course the performers. Mark Quartley’s tiptoeing, whispering body-stockinged spirit proves more beguiling than his Intel-powered virtual alter ego.

Designer Stephen Brimson Lewis conjures the cracked ribs of a vast wreck – reminiscent of Henry VIII’s salvaged Mary Rose – to frame the action in a Jacobean-inflected production that’s all about the senses.

The masque for Miranda and Ferdinand’s nuptials, an opportunistic Jacobean showcase for mummers and minstrels – is here relished with a trio of glittering operatic goddesses in psychedelic colours.

And the island’s ‘sweet airs’ are evoked with a chorus of faceless dancing spirits singing Paul Englishby’s haunting score.

Simon Russell Beale’s quietly powerful, at times hoarse-voiced Prospero is as if in the eye of the storm. Barefoot and sporting a tatty professor’s gown his wronged Duke of Milan is so understated he seems more depressed and irritable than anguished, but you can’t fault the clarity and precision of his performance.

Jenny Rainsford’s appealingly androgynous Miranda is a cheeky counterfoil, credibly delighted by this brave new world, and Joe Dixon’s Caliban cuts a sympathetic Quasi Modo figure as the bullied Caliban.

But it’s telling that when Beale steps into the spotlight to directly deliver Shakespeare’s farewell to the stage it’s the night’s least gimmicky yet most affecting moment.

The Tempest runs until August 18.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Latest Hackney Stories

15:00

Leyton Orient head coach Justin Edinburgh says he is very happy at the Brisbane Road club – despite being linked with the AFC Wimbledon managerial role.

13:00

Leyton Orient head coach Justin Edinburgh admits it was a hard-fought game but praises his side for coming from behind to beat Bromley 3-1 and extend their unbeaten run in the National League to six matches.

12:14

London Lions moved into the semi-finals of the BBL Cup with their second win over Worcester Wolves at the weekend.

12:04

Clapton boss Jonny Fowell says he always expected a tough challenge as his side fell to a heavy 4-0 defeat against in-form Saffron Walden Town.

10:00

Harry Redknapp is currently taking part in the latest series of I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!

In Michelle Fredua-Mensah’s Haggerston home sits a large silver trophy and a giant, sparkling tiara.

16:04

A young entrepreneur from Homerton has been recognised by the Prime Minister for his work improving opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds.

10:33

A 20-year-old killed himself after his family had urged professionals to take action over his mental health, and neighbours had raised concerns with Hackney Council, an inquest heard on Friday.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Former teacher Steve shares his experiences as a foster carer for teenagers, from dealing with some of their more challenging behaviour, to the rewards of seeing a child develop into a happy and healthy adult

If you are an unpaid carer in Hackney over the age of 25, who would like to get back into work, then Working for Carers can provide the practical assistance and support you need.



Newsletter Sign Up

Hackney Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists