The Tempest at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
Is Prospero a man or woman? Is he Miranda’s father or mother? Controlled Chaos’ production brings the latest version of The Tempest to the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre with an all-female cast.
In this adaptation, women play men. Still, the ambiguity is in the air, because it doesn’t matter. The acting achieves greatness without forcing the need to be a man: they are being the characters. Gender bending is not a new trend rooted by director Dylan Lincoln; in fact, Prospero has been played in the past by famous women like Helen Mirren and Vanessa Redgrave.
The Tempest, which was first staged in 1611, is believed to be the Bard’s last romantic play, as a farewell to the theatre. The composition tells the story of the Duke of Milán, who is stranded on a deserted island with his daughter Miranda and two slaves – Caliban, son of Sycorax the witch, and Ariel the spirit – after being betrayed by his brother Antonio. Filled with vengeance, the magician fabricates a tempest to shipwreck the boat that his brother is sailing on.
With rocking waves, thunderstorms and a scared crew, the play begins with a clever simulation of the ambush. The props are simple, yet effective. Smoke and hypnotic music persuasively lead the audience into a trance, submerging theatregoers in Shakespeare’s mystical world.
Defined as a comedy The Tempest is, among the playwright’s works, the most fantastical and magical: a fairytale of love between innocent Miranda and sweet Ferdinand. Antonio (Shereener Browne) and Sebastian (Afsana Sayyed) make a witty duo. But the subplot wins the laughs of the audience, with the incompetent drunkards Stefano and Trinculo. Ceri Ashe as Stefano knows what she is doing, her experience with Shakespeare is palpable, while Kimberley Capero as Trinculo is a revelation; this being her first performance, one is dazed by her talent.
The night, however, belongs to Ariel with her enchanting flute, played by an admirable Carmella Brown. She is almost a caricature, dainty and playful, and her voice is amazing. Worth highlighting is Kate Sketchley, who presents us with a repulsive and needy Caliban.
A story of treachery, ambition and love, The Tempest is a play that requires close attention. Prepare to enter Prospero’s illusion that “We are such stuff that dreams are made on” to be compensated with a beautiful tale, played by a wonderful cast.
Photo: Kevin Kamara
The Tempest is at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre from 13th February until 3rd March 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.