The stuff of dreams – RSC at Newcastle
We were in Newcastle today to see The Tempest, a Royal Shakespeare Company production with Patrick Stewart as Prospero, directed by Rupert Goold at Newcastle Theatre Royal.
Rupert Goold directed Speaking Like Magpies (scroll to 2nd December) in 2005, which was a disappointment. But this production is a triumph and Goold together with the set designer, Giles Cadle, has produced a feast of a backdrop for the play, setting it in some Arctic wasteland with a suggested affinity to Inuit culture.
Patrick Stewart’s Prospero is dispossessed, exiled on this frozen island far from home. He is a schemer, simmering with rage at what has become his fate, but at the same time obsessed and gentle with his fifteen-year-old daughter. He dreams up a magical plan to draw his enemies into his sphere of influence, where all the power is his and where he can do with with his foes anything that occurs to him. Prospero wants revenge. He needs to be able to stand tall once more, to be the victor.
Mariah Gale is highly original as Prospero’s lumpy and simple daughter, Miranda. She who has only seen two men in her life, one her father and the other a misshapen monster.
Julian Bleach plays the spirit, Ariel, smouldering with resentment against the loss of his freedom. You feel at any moment he will refuse his master’s commands and wander off into the ether. He is influenced by the characters of Becket and at the same time manages to conjure up the zombies and horror figures from a dozen old movies
Patrick Stewart’s eventually noble and tender Prospero is a delight, and together with Mariah Gale’s Miranda and Julian Bleach’s Ariel, enables an eccentric and daring production to be also moving and meaningful in equal measure.
Tickets for this production were like gold-dust and I expect the situation will be similar when it moves to London’s West-end next week. Don’t miss it.