Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I went out last night to see a friend of mine in a production of The Tempest at the Hayman Theatre. Many people sneer at student theatre, but I'm a big fan. It's generally intimate, often experimental, and oh-so-wonderfully inexpensive.

This production had a stripped down stage and unaltered dialogue, with an imaginative use of lighting and sound effects to dress the sets. It was thus the casting and acting that gave the play its life and vibrancy, which is after all the way Shakespeare would have wanted it. Ariel was played by two actors instead of the usual one, which was an effective way of evoking a sense of the character's ethereality, since she could be on both sides of the stage at once, or playing the flute and singing simultaneously. Stephano was played as Tim Curry, all enormous teeth and heavy-lidded eyes and louche posing. Prospero was tall and lean and grim, but he gave off a palpable sense of the power and authority he held over the island. Caliban was his physical opposite, stooped and burly, and owning the impression of angry, cowed tragedy that the character is supposed to evoke.

Of course, as is often the case at the theatre, the audience was just as much a source of interest as the stage. I was lucky enough to have the person I dubbed "Guffaw Man" sitting right behind me. He kept laughing, and by laughing I don't just mean a genteel little titter during amusing moments, but a barking explosion of mirth that seemed to burst out at random intervals:

Ariel: Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.



Well, that was what was echoing around inside my head. What actually came out of my mouth was more like "Grrrrrrrrrrrr..."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Connoisseurs of animal cruelty can also check out the 1977 version of 'Island of Dr. Moreau', which has lots of animals getting pretty knocked about by stuntmen. For iguana specialists, there's also the 1959 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth': two iguanas in close-up, with stuck-on fins, stand-in for dinosaurs, fight for real, then get engulfed in a 'lava' flow. I don't know what the 'lava' is, but it smothers those iguanas and no mistake.

3:08 PM  

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