Presented by Mixed Salad Productions
Reviewed Fri 27th May 2010
Venue: Star Theatre One, 145 Sir Donald Bradman Drive, Hilton
Season: 8PM Thurs to Sat to 5th June, sunset shows 4PM Sun 30th May & 6:30PM Wed 2nd June
Duration: 2hrs. 30min, incl 20min interval
Tickets: Adults $25/Conc $18 plus special group rates for schools
Bookings: BASS 131 241 or http://www.bass.net.au or at http://www. mixedsalad.com.au or for phone bookings call 0439 533 173.
Mixed Salad Productions have quickly established a reputation for quality work, winning the Adelaide Critics Circle award in 2009 for their two productions, The History Boys and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. Their latest production, an edited, reworked and updated version of Shakespeare’s romantic tragicomedy, The Tempest, looks set to generate more praise.
Written in 1610-1611 it was Shakespeare’s last complete play, featuring magic and supernatural beings, employed to highlight very human emotions and machinations. Director, Sally Putnam, has done a little bit of gender reassignment on some of the characters, and deleted the numerous spirits, without destroying any of the Bard’s original intent.
The play has a back story to it. Twelve years before the play opens the magician, Prospero was cast adrift in a boat with his three year old daughter, Miranda, eventually coming ashore on a remote island. His brother, Antonio, assisted by Alonso, the King of Naples, was responsible for this and, having removed Prospero, usurped his position as Duke of Milan. Gonzalo, a woman in this version, renamed Gonzala, the King’s counsellor, assisted Prospero by putting the most important of his books, along with food and water, into the boat beforehand. When he first arrived on the island, Prospero freed Ariel from his (now her) imprisonment in a tree by the witch Sycorax, who had died prior to Prospero’s arrival, and takes Caliban, the deformed son of Sycorax, as a servant.
Prospero now looks set to have his revenge, as Antonio, Alonso, Gonzala, Alonso’s brother, Sebastian, changed here to his sister, Sabina, his son, Ferdinand and a few others are travelling on a ship close to the island, returning from the wedding of Alonso’s daughter, Claribel, to the King of Tunis. Prospero, with the aid of Ariel, conjures up a storm that shipwrecks them on the island and separates them into several groups at the same time. Alonso, finding that Ferdinand is not with his group, fears that he is dead.
This is where the story begins, with three main tales running through the play. Ferdinand meets and falls in love with Miranda, Caliban attempts to enlist the aid of the drunken steward, Stephano, and the equally intoxicated Trinculo, here reworked as Trinny, with this production adding a third character, Suzanna, asking them to kill Prospero, and Antonio and Sabina plot to kill Alonso and Gonzala to make Sabina the new ruler.
Peter Davies gives a strong performance as Prospero, controlling the proceedings and keeping an unseen eye on all that happens. Along with strength, Davies brings a quiet dignity to the role showing us the conflict between Prospero’s better nature and his desire for revenge. This is a nicely balanced performance. Carla Hardie’s Miranda is a carefully considered study in naivety born of youthful innocence, coupled with all of the excitement of a child becoming a woman and discovering new needs and emotions.
On the darker side Dave Simms gives his Caliban a disgusting veneer to a inwardly malevolent creature with no redeeming features, yet still manages to generate plenty of humour. Sharon Malujlo brings a wonderfully fey quality to the role of Ariel, ideally suited to the character, giving the impression that she is half in our world and half in another, more secret and magical place at the same time. Oliver de Rohan is the love-struck Ferdinand, clearly having plenty of fun with the role in a convincing portrayal.
Todd Clappis, Bronwyn Ruciak and Nicole Rutty, as the inebriated trio, Stephano, Trinny and Suzanna, together add masses of comic relief. Geoff Dawes, as Antonio, Jamie Wright, as Alonso and Fiona Lardner, as Sabina, all offer fine performances as the baddies of the piece, with some tender emotions displayed by Lesley Reed in the role of Gonzala, while Rosemary Jackson acts as a silent Greek chorus, looking on and commenting via gesture and facial expression.
The set is extremely impressive, with excellent lighting from Nathan Smith and, aside from a few opening night nerves, everything went like clockwork. This company has done it again, with a high quality production that is sure to win plenty of praise, but be quick to catch it, as it only has a short run.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor Glam Adelaide.