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The Tempest

Coventry Evening Standard, 23rd October 1974

After some of Stratford’s recent excesses this uncomplicated production comes as a pleasure and a relief.

It brings a performance of rare quality and originality by Debbie Bowen as Miranda. This is something special – a Miranda who is credible and convincing.

There is magic in the island and she provides it abundantly. Oh brave new Stratford that has such creatures in’t.

Michael Aldridge’s Prospero is also an interesting reading. This is no imperious duke, seeking vengeance for his betrayal and a return to the glory of his dukedom, but rather a sad, wise man. His magic arts are used not for a display of power and the discomfiture of his enemies, but more for the sober carriage of justice.

Ferdinand, played by Michael Pennington, is responsive to the image. Not for him any wonder at the mystery or desire to stay in this paradise (the lines are cut anyway), but a youthful impatience with the old man’s strictures and a healthy desire for the flesh and the fleshpots. Not for him a game of chess with Miranda, whatever the text may say.

That does not mean that the director, Keith Hack, is likely to arouse storms over his ‘Tempest’. The portrayals work and the play lives.

There are useful supporting performances by Jonathan Kent, as the usurper Antonio, all sneers and blackness, by Robert Lloyd, as a sensitive of not very sprightly Ariel, and by James Booth and Ian McDiarmid, as a pair of inventive comics.

Only the Caliban of Jeffery Kissoon jars, despite the power of the portrayal.

Mr Hack paints him as a monster only in his colour, but , in attempting to illustrate the white man’s mental and physical cruelty to the black races, he succeeds only in being offensive to them

Essentially this is a thoughtful production which merits a wide audience.

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