The Tempest

The Tempest
By William Shakespeare. Presented by Melbourne Shakespeare Company, St. Kilda Botanical Gardens, 2-11 December, 2016.

The outdoor setting allows for a fresh and playful approach to the staging of this play. The performers take command of the large open space, even if the scale of the demand is sometimes apparent. The characters and speeches are all approached with novel ideas and raw musical talent combined with a highly fluid and delicate choreography of movement.

Emma Louise Pursey provides an imposing Prospero with unquestionable authority over her domain. Ariel is played by three masked performers (Madeline Dunkley, Victoria Mantynen, Lara Vocisano) which effectively creates the enchanting atmosphere of the Island and allows Ariel’s magical presence to dominate the stage. The stylised movements of the three performers and especially their complex harmonies are always charming. However, this tends to diminish the more spirited and impish nature of the character. Mitch Ralston uses impressive physical dexterity to convey the impressionable and boorish nature of Caliban.

The comic relief provided by Stephano (May Jasper) and Trinculo (Johnathan Peck) could have benefitted from some greater focus to exploit the rich talents of the performers more. Minor parts such as Adrian (John Reed) are also given great comic dimension and this is an example of the overall attention to fine detail that this production exhibits. This is particularly seen in the fantastic selection of songs to accompany the emotional journey in this delightful and expertly executed performance.

Patricia Di Risio

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