The Tempest (Brockley Jack) 27 April

**

Black Square by Kasimir Malevich

The first night of The Faction’s production of The Tempest was announced as lasting for an hour and fifty minutes with no interval; I caught myself looking at my watch several times to check that time was really passing and there were no programmes either.

I had difficulty in working out what the production concept was supposed to be.  There were some indications that it was meant to be set in a brothel: Miranda (Hannah Douglas)  was wearing a man’s shirt as her sole outer garment–and some modesty-preserving trunks–while the Ariel of Kate Sawyer was clad in a black bustier, tight black trousers, and high-heeled shoes.  The disco-style masque certainly added to the house-of-ill-repute atmosphere, and came off very well.  This Ariel could definitely sing, though she did come pretty close to flubbing her lines on more than one occasion (as did other members of the cast).   And how did the Caliban of Robert Fisher have such a neat haircut?

My real problem was with a rather complete lack of colour and visual interest (a very odd thing for The Tempest–surely you need to see some of the colour, fantasy and complete dottiness).  The painting by Malevich above gives the general idea, though the light-coloured border makes it rather too interesting.  Or perhaps I’m overlooking the obvious and it was set in a brothel decorated Malevich-style.

I suppose that the other idea of the production was that the real relationship was between Prospero and Ariel–and Gareth Fordred’s Prospero was really rather impressive, commanding the stage with his sidelong and expressive glances.  Similarly, I enjoyed the Trinculo of  Mark Leipacher.

Apart from the points above, the production did involve rather a lot of the characters addressing their big speeches to the audience from the same spot downstage centre–but it may be difficult to avoid in such a small space.

I don’t really have the energy to work out what the cuts were:  in the absence of programmes, there is a cast list with photos on The Faction’s Facebook page here.

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