Monday, 6 February 2023

REVIEW: The RSC's 2023 Production of The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Comical, engaging and full of vibrancy – The RSC have produced a delight of humour, physical theatre and haunting melodies in this season’s production of The Tempest.

This Shakespearean piece tells the story of the magical Duke, Prospero, who had been usurped from Milan and left stranded on an island with their daughter. Traditionally played by male actors, Alex Kingston takes on the role of the sorcerous character who with the help of slave Caliban and servant Ariel, navigates a storm of opportunity to win back her dukedom. 

Inspired by the climate emergency, this production and all parties involved have collaborated to create theatre with sustainability in mind. From reusing old scenery, floors and scenic walls from previous RSC productions, combined with local partnerships with managed forests for on-stage trees and foliage; this company are setting the standard for the future of sustainable theatre.

With all of this second-hand, green practice, it must be said that the set was truly visionary in creating the perfect tropical island: huge canopies of gorgeous greenery, warm yellow lights – enough to make you feel sun-kissed from the top of the circle, and a goose-bump inducing soundscape that magnified all the senses and took the audience to an Eden-paradise. Fuelled by symbolic gesture, powerful physicality and entrancing music, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre comes to life in an ethereal and idyllic way.

Kingston makes an imperious and hypnotising Prospero, solidifying the empowering gender reversal with a mother-daughter relationship - her child Miranda, played by Jessica Rhodes. Their on-stage chemistry and comic timing cement the foundation for the plot with such ease. Heledd Gwynn’s whimsical and enticing depiction of Ariel was a stand-out performance; gracing the audience with a light relief, folk-like vocals and delicious playfulness. 

This modern-day, eco-conscious production propels the RSC into the 21st century and would be the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for the non-thespian; a forward-thinking and accessible way of theatre we hope to see more of.

Review by Esther Neville

Rating: ★★★★ 

Seat: Circle A51 | Price of Ticket: £75
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