Review Round-up: Did Roger Allam's Prospero stir the critics?
One of Shakespeare’s last plays, The Tempest is set on a remote island where Prospero trains his powers of manipulation and magic. He summons a colossal storm in order to set his daughter, Miranda, back in her rightful position.
...Herrin's production is particularly strong on comedy; there can't be many productions of this play that produce so many laughs. Yet strangely, the comic scenes of Sam Cox's Stephano and Trevor Fox's Trinculo are rather flat. It doesn't start well - the opening scene is almost completely inaudible thanks to the thunder effects and the Globe's harsh acoustics… It's a curious mix: some excellent verse speaking, some fine comedy and an attractive young couple at the heart but the darker elements are missing entirely - it's a simplistic reading but one greatly appreciated by the Globe audience.
...Allam weighs every word exquisitely. He has the ability to make a line as simple as "Fairly spoke" vibrate with meaning - in this case allowing wryness to chafe against humanity. His performance is flecked with humour yet also with pathos… Jessie Buckley... brings passion to her role as Prospero’s daughter Miranda… What’s missing from director Jeremy Herrin’s interpretation is a sense of magic… While there are some seductive episodes, other scenes are colourless. This is a skilfully acted account of The Tempest, but not a spellbindingly beautiful one.
...Jeremy Herrin's production, with beautiful Jacobean costumes and genuinely enchanting music by Stephen Warbeck, captures all the wonder of this play about forgiveness, with its tough acknowledgment that it isn’t always possible to redeem the hardest of hearts – even with the help of magic… The great Roger Allam... is in equally fine form here… James Garnon is an outstanding, feral Caliban… Colin Morgan memorably captures Ariel’s mixture of the ethereal and the petulant… A production that memorably captures the humour, the enchantment and the tantalising sense of mystery of Shakespeare’s last masterpiece.
Caliban (James Garnon), Stephano (Sam Cox) & Trinculo (Trevor Fox). Photo: Marc Brenner
...Roger Allam brings something new to the party by suggesting that Prospero is first and foremost a father… Jeremy Herrin's pleasing production avoids the temptation to turn the play into a spectacular island fling. Magic is created through simple means, such as a shower of petals descending from the sky or Stephen Warbeck's music emanating from every corner of the building… He gets good performances from Jessie Buckley and Joshua James as the enraptured lovers, Colin Morgan as a nimble Ariel and James Garnon as a Caliban who burps and spits in the groundlings' faces. In the end, however, the evening belongs to Allam.
Jessie Buckley... proves herself a delightful stage actress playing Miranda… Joshua James is toothy and forgivably Hoorayish as her discovered lust object Ferdinand. Roger Allam enters a new phase of his maturity as a magisterially-voiced Prospero... Colin ‘Merlin’ Morgan gives a decidedly ‘dainty Ariel’ ... Director Jeremy Herrin should insist he takes music lessons… Good touches include some skeletoned puppet guard-dogs, a shower of confetti from on high when the lovers splice, drifts of xylophone music and Mr Allam’s verse speaking (or rather shouting, when the overhead helicopters were at their worse).