The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble presents one of Shakespeare's most creative and for many Shakespeare enthusiasts, greatest plays, The Tempest. Performed on stage in the open at the Roma Street Parkland's Amphitheatre.
The Tempest tells the story of Prospero, the rightful duke of Milan and sorcerer, who is exiled on an island with his daughter. Through his sorcery he is able to create illusions and command spirits. He whips the eponymous storm to wreck the ship his usurping brother Antonio along with his son Ferdinand, Gonzalo the king of Milan and others who are returning from a wedding.
He contrives to bewitch and separate the various parties so they think each other dead before bringing them together, confronting and ultimately forgiving them. Overall this is a comedy about power, corruption, ambition, human nature and having your greatest enemies at your mercy.
The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble tackles this play with great wit and creativity. They start by using the Roma Street Parkland's Amphitheatre creatively by arranging the stage as the main theatre space with seating on the stage itself, thus creating a very intimate theatrical experience. They cleverly also use the full space of the ampitheatre for certain scenes allowing them paint on a much larger canvas that you would normally experience in an intimate space.
Rob Pensalfini steals the show as Prospero but is supported by a generally wonderful cast with Rebecca Murphy as Ariel, Zac Kelty as Caliban and Johancee Theron as Miranda being stand out cast members.
The production is kept fairly simple yet there is a great energy invested in this performance, with the actors performing music before the play and during the interval. They also sing some of the lines of the play, always at the most appropriate time.
What makes this production really work is that you are close enough to see people's faces and their expressions and this is what carries the story and the drama. So even if you are worried about having to sit through the Shakespearean language you will never be lost in the plot because of the masterful performances.
Overall a great little production of one of Shakespeare's interesting and humorous plays. You don't have to be a fan of Shakespeare or the theatre to enjoy this play, and those who are are also certain to appreciate this particular staging.