If you can get to Great Yarmouth this week please do so and go to the Hippodrome. They’ve got the most astonishing production of The Tempest that I’ve ever seen. The Hippodome is an old indoor circus space, it’s a bit like being inside a work by Peter Blake. When you go in you’ll notice that the circus ring looks like a wet muddy beach, which it is to begin with but quite soon into the play it transforms into a pool, in and around which most of the action takes place. It works. It’s brilliant. The circus space emphasizes the dangers of the play in a way that straight theatre spaces can’t. There’s use of trapeze action for example, and you are never quite sure how safe the actors are in the water. And Trinculo and Stephano produce a double act that owes a lot to the Auguste circus tradition.
I found myself noticing stuff that I’d never really twigged about The Tempest – how much it is about power and the abuse of power, and how angry Prospero is (how difficult it is for him to use the word ‘forgive’) and so on. The company has a couple of actors who’ve worked with Punchdrunk, one of whom is a superb Ariel – she is the embodiment of spirit.
There are all kinds of things I’d love to write about, particularly how they manage that often dry Masque with Juno and Iris, but I don’t want to rob you of a joyous discovery.
You can find out more and see ticket information on the NNF website here