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The Tempest - Royal Shakespeare Company Review

Stormy skies are cast over The Royal Shakespeare Company with a new production of Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Jessica Rhodes as Miranda and Alex Kingston as Prospero. Photo by Ikin Yum
Director Elizabeth Freestone helms the new production which focuses on sustainability touching on the climate crisis we face in the modern world but without ever becoming preachy. The stage is strewn with plastics which are often acknowledged but there's no sense of this being anything that detracts away from the plot.

Tom Piper's outstanding set design is a varied landscape that begins as a desolate place that slowly opens into something more luscious. The effective use of the stage and the varied recycled bits of scenery and props allows for the general feeling of this barren island to play out. The staging by the end is transfixing in its beauty.  The Tempest sequence is played out with excellent lighting by Johanna Town which brings the storm to life in a way that is genuinely quite thrilling to watch.

So, to the island where Prospero, Duke of Milan, and her daughter Miranda have made their home after being usurped by her brother who uses her magical learnings to cast tempest and leads the Duke and companions to wash up on the island. Headlining the cast is an excellent Alex Kingston, although the magical elements of the character do feel a little underplayed, she shows her great prowess as she interacts with those around her in particular Heledd Gwynn's impressive Ariel. Gywnn has a majestic quality as she almost glides around the stage.

The cast of The Tempest. Photo by Ikin Yum.
Jessica Rhodes is a tender Miranda who really comes to life when she meets Ferdinand, the King's son, played by Joseph Payne. Together they create a tender bond that glues things together and centres a beautiful reunion sequence. Tommy Sim'aan feels more human than the previous Caliban's I've encountered, less monster more man, his final scene as he exits talking in his mother language is memorable.

There's some great work in the ensemble including Cath Whitefield's foolish Trinculo and Jamie Ballard's terrific Antonio, Ballard comes into his own when the spell of Prospero looms over him and he becomes a little possessed. 

A 90-minute first act is lengthy but a slicker better paced second act brings this wonderous tale to a close. It's an undoubtedly enjoyable production that will leave you thinking about how you look after the world but more importantly each other. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Tempest plays at The Royal Shakespeare Company until Saturday 4th March, tickets are available from

Ticket was gifted.

Grace Cookey-Gam as Sebastian, Ishia Bennison as Gonzalo, Heledd Gwynn as Ariel, Jamie Ballard as Antonio and Peter De Jersey as Alonso. Photo by Ikin Yum.

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