|Christopher Plummer conjures a tempest|
The Tempest is my favorite of Shakespeare's plays. I love the spectacle of it--the sea storm, the fanciful interpretations of Ariel and Caliban, the fabulous language. "You really like this play don't you?" my friend said, which was my first clue I was saying some of the lines out loud along with the actors.
Christopher Plummer is the best Prospero I've ever seen and I've seen some Prosperos. Anthony Hopkins played the role here in L.A. opposite Stephanie Zimbalist as Miranda. Ellis Rabb starred in a production he also directed at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. The set, I remember, was a beach with several huge seashells scattered about. Rabb played the magician in a very patrician manner that was interesting but not engaging. Plummer's performance was ... magical.
|Soelistyo and Plummer plot|
The Tempest was part of the Stratford's season a few years ago (I think Plummer did King Lear last year) and I've always wanted to go up there for a week and see as many productions as I can. This season they're doing Henry V, everybody's favorite history play, Much Ado About Nothing (my favorite comedy) and Cymbeline, which I can't even remember, although I know I read it.
This version of The Tempest was directed by Des McAnuff.
I really liked McAnuff's conception of Ariel. The tricksy spirit was played by tiny (4'10") Julyana Soelistyo whose naughty giggle was a reminder that spirits aren't human and find different things funny. (McAnuff definitely played up the humor in the text and made the most of the subplot involving Caliban and the two comic drunkards, Trinculo and Stephano.)
Geraint Wyn Davies played Stephano and he was so hilarious I wish I'd seen him playing Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream when it played in rep. If you caught his turn as pompous Shakespearean actor Henry Breedlove on the wonderful show Slings and Arrows, you have some idea of what he can do. The man was born to speak Shakespeare and not everyone in the company was up to his and Plummer's level. (The young woman playing Miranda, for instance, sounded like she'd learned her lines phonetically at times.)
I haven't seen the Julie Taymore version of The Tempest starring Helen Mirren, but now I have to go track it down. Because really, can you think of a better way to spend a few hours?