A quite satisfactory rendition of Shakespeare's play by the Stratford Festival, filming their stage version of this play. Casting a female in the lead role of Prospero has been done several times recently, notably by Helen Mirren and Harriet Walter. (If you get a chance, check out the latter's stunning delivery - you won't be disappointed!). In this case, Martha Henry gives a somewhat restrained but very poignant presentation of this complex character - part former rule, part loving mother, part ruling master and overall, master creator (i.e., writer). Her performance really helped me believe what many think: this was Shakespeare's swan song to his audiences.
The difficulty in presenting The Tempest is how to make a play which is part revenge-motive, part tender love story, part slapstick comedy, part murderous plotting and part pure fantasy something near an integral whole. Director Barry Avrich succeeds in this, I believe, by precise timing of the staging changes. In this way, the audience's focus is allowed to readjust to the totally new circumstances which repeatedly cross the stage.
Particular mention should be given to the comic performances of Tom McCamus and Stephen Ouimette in the roles of Stafano and Trinculo. Their timing, body gestures, and intricate manners of playing off the clumsy Caliban (played quite well by Michael Blake) are exceptionally engaging.
All-in-all, well done, although I still personally prefer the Phyllida Lloyd's Donmar Warehouse presentation.
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