Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Tempest - review

Written by: Dombo (@DomOJFryer)

Where's Dom Gone?
The White Bear Theatre – a small pub somewhere in Kennington.
Was Dom fond?

It was the beginning of a strange evening. As I arrived in Waterloo, I found I was hungry, so purchased what I believed would be a delicious Croque Monsieur – how wrong I was. Unfortunately, this proved to be an all-too-accurate fable of the nights experiences; I arrived in Kennington looking forward to White Bear Theatre's production of a Shakespearean classic, The Tempest. What I hoped for was a vibrant piece of fringe theatre, well thought out and delicately planned, with some ambitious direction in a venue that won a Time Out award in 2011 for “West End Teasers”. Unfortunately, on this showing, most of the cast wouldn't make it on Eastenders; not even as the extras in the market place.

The best way to describe the production is as “confusing”. The lead, Prospero, for instance; for a man who has such an extensive list of Shakespearean credits to his C.V (yes, all the big ones) he did not appear to know what on earth he was saying throughout. I'm fairly certain he mispronounced “thou” - confused. 

The set design within the small black box was mainly red and green checks, perhaps reminiscent of a chessboard – confusing. The director made a decision to have a perfectly random contemporary pop song in the prologue, sung by Ariel – confusing. And Caliban decided to have an “interesting character moment” every thirty seconds by smacking herself in the face repeatedly – just wrong.

I feel guilty just panning the performance, so now for the positives...
... (At this point I stopped to get a sandwich, one which was not a Croque Monsieur).
The crew made an admirable effort with such limited resources to make this production happen; the limited lighting was used to as much effect as it could have been, and the plastic swords annoyed me far less than, for example, being punched in the face. Also, amongst the cast was a shining light, Bill Parfitt; this young lad, who is a member of the National Youth Theatre, looked to be the actor of experience and composure that his peers should have been.

In a production wherein many of the cast looked to be as bored as the audience were, there were few things I found to enjoy. Let us hope that this is a rare blip for the White Bear Theatre, who are a venue on the up; it certainly couldn’t get worse. 


Anonymous said...

What a stupid, immature and ignorant review.Are you a friend of MR. parfitt's by any chance.
I saw the same production and it was not a good one, the highlights were ARIEL AND prospero, who spoke the verse beautifully. Try to keep your eating habits out of reviews.

Dombo said...

Whilst Ignorance and a differing opinion are two seperate things, you are nonetheless very much entitled to your's; similarly, as am I to mine. Thankyou for taking the time to read the blog and state your opinions, we are massive supporters of constructive debate here and are always grateful of feedback!
I've never met any of the people involved with the production, I merely thought that on the night I saw the show, Mr. Parfitt stood out as the best performer.

As for my eating habits, I thought it was a nice link into my experience of the evening!

Thanks again for the feedback, we have many other reviewers here with different styles, so if you didn't like mine, perhaps you will like their's!

Good evening,


Anonymous said...

Dear Dombo,

Thankyou for your return comment, you are certainly welcome to your opinion however untrained it may be, I think we agree on one thing it was a bad production. Clearly Mr. Parfitt's delivery of his lines to the floor throughout the production I saw is your Idea of good acting, the prospero and ariel I saw were first class, I have not met any of the cast but have seen them in other productions, indeed the excellent lead was in a production at the white bear awhile ago gifted I belive it was, I regularly frequent the white bear, whilst picking out the best of this poor production, you fail to mention an Alonso who on my night couldn't remember a line, there were several performances like this, yet the girl who played the goddesses was brilliant! You mention none of this! Baffling! I wish you well in the future.

Good Evening to you

Anonymous said...

It's a harsh review but it is a fair one. It just wasn't a good production. You could glimpse some of the ideas but they weren't well-developed and the script editing was very poor.

I agree with the first commenter that the girl who played Ariel was the stand-out, and Prospero and the Goddesses very good with what they had to work with. I'm loathe to criticize the cast on the basis of such a weak production. I have also seen several of the cast in other productions and showing far more talent. Saw the girl who played Gonzalo at the Old Vic and she was very good indeed, her performance here wasn't bad but the approach to the character was terrible. Gender-blind casting can work if handled intelligently but Gonzalo and Antonio really can't be young women! Ferdinand had a lot of charisma but I didn't feel any chemistry between him and Miranda. I saw the actor in a touring production of Twelfth Night and he gave a very charming performance in that too but he looks a mite young to be playing romantic leads.

Dombo said...

As always, we appreciate your comments here on What's Peen Seen!

Thanks for reading and taking the time out to comment, it seems we have an interesting production here, regardless of the end product!

As I say in the review, it is such a shame that the response to the show isn't all that positive, but I'm sure the Theatre will bounce back.

Ferdinand did indeed have a lot of charisma, and it is interesting what you say about the lack of chemistry, something which I thought was lacking across the board.

As for you having seen some of these performers in earlier productions, perhaps I caught them on an off day! We must remember that ONE under par performance doesn't make someone an inherently bad actor!

Thanks again, and keep reading.

Anonymous said...

How sad that the other commentor has let this bad critic off the hook, it wasn't a harsh review but a fair one this critic has decided to have a go at the best actors in an awful production and this is the trouble with the net reviews people with no ability suddenly believe they are Michael Billington, the lead Prospero was good, the awful review given by this critic is not justified nor is his review of the brilliant Ariel, Ferdinand spent the whole performance looking at the floor, perhaps he may have had charisma to anyone with experience of theatre, butr deliver your lines out please! This laughable review is then given a patronising one below par performance doesn't make a bad actot, when the below par reviewer has ignored awful performances, Alonso, Miranda,Stephano, and critised the good Ariel, Caliban, Prospero,to say the lead didn't understand what he was saying is stupid, as this member of the audience and others like me understood and listened, perhaps he should, and to not mention the goddesses is unforgivable.

Bardolator said...

I overheard some of the cast in the pub after complaining that they only had five or six rehearsals total and the director didn't know what he was doing. Whoever edited the script certainly didn't. They distributed the missing Sebastian's lines (a choice, or could they not get enough actors willing to be in it?) seemingly at random, so in 5.1 it appears Prospero is accusing Gonzago of treachery! How did that get past?