Last night's performance of The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Company was magical, but not in the traditional sense. Jonathan Slinger as Prospero delivers a haunting performance. His staff was little more than a piece of driftwood come ashore and his coat a dirty suite jacket. Under the direction of David Farr, the production delivers an intelligent interpretation of William Shakesepare's final play.
The tropical island described in the text appears as a muddy wasteland. The concept feels modern, but not labored. Prospero's cell, and the sea, resemble a large refrigerated unit or fish tank placed upstage. The walls convert from opaque to translucent. The cube created unique visual images of life inside the tempest.
Sandy Grierson stands out as the doppelganger of Prospero, subtle and still in his portrayal of Ariel. His performance delivered the mysterious supernatural appeal of Ariel, struggling with human emotion - a very smart choice and dynamic in his simplicity.