This was an entertaining, adventurous production of one of Shakespeare’s great comedies.
The director and lead performer Alex Kendall Robson’s director’s note in the program is very illuminating. This is an excerpt from the note.
“As always with Giant Dwarf, set elements have to be kept minimal, as we essentially have to bump out after every show. So how does one then transform an Art Deco Hall in Redfern into a renaissance tropical island? You don’t. Which saves a lot of bother. I went with a carnivalesque aesthetic to match the red velvet curtain and gilded proscenium. Prospero’s own cheap and nasty circus for the damned: Mardi Gras meets Dia de los Muertos- on a budget. Prospero is a magician, literally, but is also a ringleader and puppet master; the other characters are his ‘demi-puppets’- enacting his present fancies.”
THE TEMPEST is a story of magic and monsters, and of an enchanted island set in a distant sea. It tells of what happened in three hours on that island, when beauty and nonsense and innocence and terror clash for a time and then quiet in to a final peace under the power of a great magician Prospero, and to see it is to enter into a wonderful world which is not quite like any other that Shakespeare ever made.
Robson’s production takes us deeply into this fantastic world. There is a lot of clever use of puppetry, co-designed by Ebony Zderi and Indi Redding. The ‘Gonzalo’ puppet was particularly impressive.
Sara Furnari’s costume design, clearly budget conscious, featured some interesting choices.
The performers were good. Alex Kendall Robson’s was suitably regal with an appealing light touch.
Jade Fuda played two characters, a sexy, wispy Miranda, Prospero’s fifteen years old daughter and the lesser role of,Antonio.
Zach Selmes’ portrayal of the Ariel, a spirit found by Prospero, was an enchanting one, and he played some music, which he arranged, on a lute and a piano. An appealing soundscape was composed by Antonio Fernandez.
Shayan Askari was suitably vengeful, sullen and animal like, as Caliban who lets Prospero down, after he has tried to help him, by attacking Miranda.
Handsome Nicholas Foustellis played two roles that of Ferdinand, the King’s young son, and Sebastian, the King of Naples. There was good chemistry between Foustellis and Fuda.
Samantha Lambert is convincing as the King’s rather disorientated jester, Trinculo. He is worried about the upcoming storm, and seeks shelter, finding it under Caliban’s cloak which he philosophically says ‘misery makes for strange bedfellows.’
The scene where Stephano discovers an animal with four legs, only to discover it is Caliban and Trinculo together hiding under a cloak is, for me, the finniest scene in the play.
Zoran Jevtic is convincing as the King’s drunken, out of control butler, Stephano.
Darcy Campbell shows some good touches as an honest old counsellor, Gonzalo and Alonso, the King of Naples.
The production went straight through, a good choice, for roughly ninety minutes without interval, involving some trimming of this Shakespeare comic masterpiece.
This is the play with one of Shakespeare’s most loved passages which bear some repeating here.
“Our revels are now ended. These our actors/ As I foretold you, were all spirits, and/are melted into thin air, and like the baseless fabric of this vision/the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces/the solemn temples, the great globe itself,/ yea, all which it inherit shall dissolve/and like the insubstantial pageant faded/leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff / as dreams are made on, and our little life/is rounded with a sleep.”
This is the second Shakespeare production put on by Fingerless Theatre after it ran a successful season of A Midsummer’s Night Dream in late February.
Fingerless Theatre’s production of THE TEMPEST is playing the Giant Dwarf Theatre, Cleveland Street Redfern until the 24th May, 2019.
Featured image- Alex Kendall Robson and Jade Fuda in ‘The Tempest’ at the Giant Dwarf Theatre’