Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Tempest: Ralph Fiennes and his Penetrating Eyes

I wanted to love Trevor Nunn's production of The Tempest for a lot of reasons:

1)  I spent the most money on this ticket.
2)  I like Ralph Fiennes a lot.  Quiz Show might be the greatest movie ever made and his performance is perfection.
3)  I'd never seen The Tempest before and would have been happy to start with a definitive production
4)  I think Nunn's direction of Arcadia was perfect and was eager to see another Nunn staging.
5)  This was my last show of my London theater vacation trip.

Alas.  It was somewhere between disappointing and fine.  Fiennes was entrancing.  I could just sit around letting his eyes penetrate me all day.  #letskeepitcleankids  You can believe he has a sorcerer's powers.  I mean why would a sorcerer not be hot and intoxicating and uhm mesmerizing.  When he talks, I listen.  But the production was overall very flat.

The costumes look like something a 6 year old would have dreamed up for fairies.  They were shiny and plasticky and made me think of cheap Halloween costumes.  They were also staged like pre-school fairies.  It was like Tinkerbell meets Shakespeare.  Is this how it is supposed to be?  Did Shakespeare actually predict the coming of the Disney princesses empire?  I'm guessing not.

The use of projections here was ineffective and except for the storm sequence the whole place just looked drab and uninspiring.  It lacked a sense of place.  The only feeling the stage evoked was depressing.  

The rest of the cast was forgettable.  Whiny love sick kids.  Whiny old shipwrecked men.  The fools were enjoyable and gave a ribald comedic performance but other than that I am struggling to remember what happened. 

In the end, I was glad I saw Fiennes on stage again (saw his Hamlet years ago).  He's got a great voice, a commanding presence, and he's an actor who should do more stage work. 

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