Red Kettle Theatre choose to explore oppression through theatre, I hope they choose a play from their native Ireland.
The Tempest was Shakespeare’s last play, written when Queen Elizabeth, patron & fan of his earthy dramas, had been succeeded by a king who adored the magic, music and myth of Italian masques. Shakespeare added emotion to this mix, and created his marvellous allegory of rage and resolution through the power of love. This Theatre Royal Bath production thrills with every element. From the moment Prospero conjures elemental chaos as catalyst for his own inner storm, to his final violent abdication of power, this suberb production charms, entertains, and terrifies by turn. Tim Piggott-Smith is awesome as Prospero, making every familiar word seem a fresh thought, and the passion between Iris Roberts’ irresistible Miranda and her Ferdinand (Mark Quartley) is convincing as well as delightful as they crawl like babes towards their shared love. There’s comedy to best stand-up standard from Mark Hadfield’s Trinculo and his drinking companions, and a feast of spectacle: Ariel, looking like a Swinging Sixties postcard model and straddling his every scene whether on stilts or winged like a monstrous angel, Caliban a reptilian Prodigy, the sprites bizarrely costumed like extras in Scrubs as they watch the action like road-crash rubber-neckers (and even more bizarrely as they put shoes on their fists and river-dance them) the exquisite puppet sequence as goddesses come to bless the Miranda’s future union… I could go on. Dazzling direction by Adrian Noble and a superb cast make this one of the best Shakespeare productions I’ve ever seen.