As promised a couple weeks ago, here is the second of my reviews from the Freewill Shakespeare Festival in Hawrelak Park. Along with Julius Caesar, the festival is also doing a production of The Tempest, which was the first play I read for the blog (you can refresh your memory here).
As I’d guessed in my review for Julius Caesar, the blue stage works tremendously well for the play and adds that slightly strange atmosphere that the island requires. Thanks also go to mother nature who rained for the entire play and provided some nice ambiance (yay for the tent and rubber boots!). The rotating section of the stage is used very effectively throughout and the small piece of ship was a great (and impressive) touch.
The costumes were beautiful and visually interesting. Prospero’s cape was just the right level of unusual you’d expect of a sorcerer. Miranda’s costume was simple, functional, and reflected her innocent character. All of the shipwrecked royals were mild biker gang garb (leather jackets, dark jeans, big black boots) and I was particularly fond of Ferdinand’s jacket (I like clothes that lace up, what can I say). Trinculo and Stefano were dressed just as you’d expect of fools. Caliban’s costume made him look a bit sea-monster-ish but it worked really well. But the most impressive costume was Ariel’s which was visually interesting, reflective of her unearthlyness, and just gorgeous. I particularly loved the feather mohawk on her head piece.
On to the production itself. The cast did an excellent job of making a play that can seem extremely weird on the page (or even in some film productions) thoroughly enchanting. They even added additonal moments of much-need humour even when Trinculo and Stefano aren’t around (special shout out to Mat Simpson as Ferdinand who really brought some subtle comedy to many of his scenes). John Wright is brilliant as Prospero and made a character who can come off as capricious and a bit crazy very sympathetic. His interactions with Miranda (played by Calyley Thomas-Haug) play a major role in this. As you’ll remember from my original encounter with the play, I’m very fond of Miranda and Ferdinand, whose courtship is just so innocent and endearing. Cayley Thomas-Haug and Mat Simpson did not disappoint and were thoroughly adorable. However, my favourite performance came from Amber Borotsik as Ariel. She made the character utterly fascinating to watch and I was always thrilled when she popped up.
Definitely a fun production to check out, even if it is raining. The Freewill Shakespeare Festival runs until 22 July 2012.