Review: The Tempest

Katie Read reviews 'The Tempest' at The Northern Stage.

19th October 2015

The Tempest is one of Shakespeare’s final plays, and also one of his most famous. Centred on the story of revenge, repentance and forgiveness, it’s also a play that remains relevant today. This new adaptation by Improbable, directed by Phelim McDermott, uses modern techniques to make this play more accessible to the modern audience.

"The actors take on their roles with the scene moving to those on board the ship"

At the start of the play, a washing machine is at the centre of the stage, while the stage is completely covered with clothes. The actors line up while one of their number loads the machine, including a sheet with a picture of a ship on it. Next, another woman puts in the powder, Ariel, a little play on the name of the magical spirit. The washing machine starts to turn and as it does, the actors take on their roles, with the scene moving to those on board the ship in the storm. They jump over-board, and from there the story begins.

"The lines are learned through recordings of the script at rehearsals"

In order to fully understand the script and the meaning of the language, those involved in the production used the Whelan technique, through which the lines are learned through recordings of the script at rehearsals. This technique let the cast act from the first rehearsal whilst also allowing them to partially play to the atmosphere within the theatre and the audience as well. This, I found, allowed Shakespeare to be more accessible to the modern audience, more fluid and definitely more enjoyable.

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