The Storm Has Hit
A shipwreck on a mysterious island, love, power, politics and a little bit of revenge and magic- Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble do justice to Shakespeare’s last full play, The Tempest.
The setting (and weather) for the opening night of this play could not have been better- sitting on the stage of the amphitheater in Roma St Parklands, with the wind rushing by, you could feel a storm a- brewing. Placing the audience on stage, and making the usual seating of the amphitheater into the ocean (complete with shipwreck) was a fabulous use of space. It really did feel as though the stage was an island, where you could shelter from the inclement weather. The live band played an uplifting sea-shanty here and a lilting ballad there, and then…something unexpected, which served to enhance the charged atmosphere.
Rob Pensalfini (Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble’s Artistic Director) played Prospero, a sorcerer who rules the island and its few inhabitants. His performance was both commanding and tender, and his monologues had particular gravitas. Prospero’s beautiful daughter, Miranda, was played by Johancée Theron. It was delightful to watch her joyously fall in love with Ferdinand, played by the earnestly boyish Silvan Rus. Playing Prospero’s spirit servant ariel, was Rebecca Murphy, who was a lovely mix of power and mischief. Zac Kelty was excellent as Caliban, playing a poor tormented creature, half man, half fish. Kelty had great comedic timing and his physicality almost had me forgetting he is human. However, special mention goes to Jason Mckell (Sebastian) and Chris Vaag (Anotonio) as a great comic relief team (they would make an excellent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern), and had the timing of their banter down to an art.
I urge you to go an see The Tempest– it’s fun, poignant and utterly atmospheric- make sure you take a blanket and money for the hot drinks on sale- then sit back and be swept up in the storm.
Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble’s The Tempest runs till September 6 at the Amphitheatre in Roma Street Parkland.