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Review: THE TEMPEST, Shakespeare's Globe

Review: THE TEMPEST, Shakespeare's Globe

Love Island meets Below Deck in Benidorm in Sean Holmes's OTT summertime pastiche.

The Tempest | GlobeThe Tempest is one of Shakespeare's plays that could rival a fantasy series on Netflix. It has a vengeful sorcerer, a romantic plot, a shipwreck, exotic, fascinating lands, and a politically rife commentary. It hasn't been too long since the Bard's swansong graced The Globe Theatre, with a touring production by Brendan O'Hea treading its boards as little as last year.

Still, their most famous past Tempest most probably dates back to 2013, when Jeremy Herren directed Roger Allam as Prospero, Jessie Buckley was Miranda, and Colin Morgan a pesky Ariel. Sean Holmes shakes up this tale of revenge and redemption at the helm of the Globe Ensemble.

Love Island meets Below Deck in Benidorm in his OTT summertime pastiche. Prospero dons a speedo. Questionable tattoos cover a few of the cast. The most unpredictable of twists stretches the limits of copyright infringement. It's absolutely bonkers, but it works! Holmes delivers a modern, refreshing, and unconventional take.

Ferdy Roberts and Nadi Kemp-Sayfi make for a close-knit daddy-daughter duo. Ruled by boredom, she is curious and intelligent as Miranda, while Roberts's Propero is eccentric yet focused. Sweet and loving with each other, they turn nasty, privileged, and entitled when addressing Caliban in a jarring juxtaposition of manners.

Caliban is Prospero's staff and is made to tidy up and attend to every of his whims and needs. Ciarán O'Brien's "savage monster" is an overworked, traumatised, exhausted native of the isle, forced to tend to the colonisers. With designer Paul Wills's collection of pool floats and towering palm trees, Prospero and Miranda almost become demanding tourists at a resort.

Surprisingly, this falls perfectly in line with the postcolonial analysis currently associated with the play. Holmes amps it up even more, having Caliban as an Irishman. The political implications of these directive choices might refocus the attention on Caliban's liberation thanks to O'Brien's magnetic performance, but don't overbear the rest of the characters, with Holmes allowing plenty of laughter too.

Alonso (Katy Stephens), Sebastian (Lucy Phelps), Antonio (Patrick Osborne), and Gonzalo (Peter Bourke) are bickering businesslike politicians in sharp suits and unfortunately bad wigs. Their conspiracies are precisely calibrated with subtle comedy, echoed by the real comic reliefs of the show: George Fouracres and Ralph Davis.

Fouracres shines once again, this time as a comically resigned Stefano (here a sea captain instead of Alonso's butler). Pitch-perfect in his sarcasm, he teaches Caliban the lyrics to "Football's Coming Home" while proudly showing the patriotic scratch mark tattoo on his chest.

This production is bound to be a divisive one. It's certainly not for Shakespearean purists, who will possibly tear it down as a desecration of The Tempest. But it's unpretentious, hilarious, and full of heart. Mostly, it holds all the essence of the material, which is why it works so well. It's a summer treat.

The Tempest runs at Shakespeare's Globe until 22 October.

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From This Author - Cindy Marcolina

Italian export. Member of the Critics' Circle (Drama). Also a script reader and huge supporter of new work. Twitter: @Cindy_Marcolina

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