The Roundhouse, London NW1
Opened 7 May, 2002

** It's big and loud, but not much else

There's a lot of Acting-with-a-capital-A going on in Michael Boyd's production, but in emphasising the artifice he stifles the actual story.

It's the RSC's bad fortune that the two big company shows to open in London since Adrian Noble announced his resignation are both clinkers. In this instance, the only original story in all of Shakespeare is turned deadly dull by big, unnatural performances. There are nods to the Roundhouse's occasional use as a circus venue, with acrobatics on ladders, ropes and the tilting deck platform which dominates the stage, but even such cavorting fails to excite interest. Bizarrely, the storm itself in the opening scene is regularly interrupted for slow, introspective delivery of various lines.

This sets the standard for much of what is to come. Director Boyd is normally skilled at finding textual points on which to hang particular readings and interpretations, but this time his big picture of a tetchy Prospero, grown almost sociopathic in his long isolation as he orchestrates events on the island, drowns out the many moments of wonder in the play. Malcolm Storry plays Prospero in a kind of ham-Olivier voice, Kananu Kirimi thinks that Ariel is Puck, and only Jerome Willis in the supporting role of Gonzalo resists the order to turn the artifice control up to 11.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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