Greenwich Theatre – until 16 February
Reviewed by Claire Roderick
Lazarus opens its second season at Greenwich with a spellbinding production of The Tempest sprinkled with moments of wonder. Shakespeare’s tale of Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, and his revenge on those whose actions led to his exile on a remote island is so familiar, but Ricky Dukes’ adaptation is fresh and exciting.
A hexagonal shape marked out by lights becomes Prospero’s island and cell with the shipwrecked protagonists wandering around its perimeter as Prospero and Ariel bewitch them. This isle is indeed full of noises, as Sam Glossop’s bewitching sound design provides a constant soundtrack to the action onstage.
Micha Colombo’s Prospero is firmly in command, the calmness at the centre of the storm, with a steely but maternal air that is totally convincing. She is the only splash of colour amongst the costumes. Dressed in a sparkling blue ballgown, Prospero becomes an older version of Frozen’s Elsa (thanks Ricky for finally making that penny drop for me – 5 years later than the rest of the world!) learning to “Let It Go”. Alexander Da Fonseca is a wonderful mix of innocence and boldness, and his instant connection with Ferdinand (Aaron Peters) is played beautifully. Abigail Clay is a restless and animalistic Ariel, effortlessly portraying Ariel’s ethereal qualities without any need for otherworldly costume. The comic relief provided by the drunken Stephano (James Altson), Trinculo (David Clayton) and Caliban (Georgina Barley) is superb with the trio bouncing off each other and clowning around expertly.
The survivors’ journey around the island, and Prospero’s journey to redemption and forgiveness is played out at a brisk pace but Dukes’ direction ensures the quieter, tender moments are not rushed. The two standout scenes are either side of the interval, with Alonso and his men cowering beneath Ariel’s huge Harpy wings ending the first half with electric energy, and the second half beginning with a beautiful celebration of Miranda and Ferdinand’s vows – full of gorgeous visual touches and exuding warmth and love (watch Da Fonseca’s reactions when Peters touches him – just lovely).
An exciting start to Lazarus’s new season, The Tempest is a magical and joyful production that will enchant every audience