Theatre Review: The Tempest at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

The Tempest stirs up a storm in the West End under Trevor Nunn’s direction.

It’s a star studded cast in this version of what is believed to be Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest, as Trevor Nunn directs the third production of his season at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Prospero (Ralph Fiennes) finds himself marooned and left to die on a remote desert island. But due to his learning and wisdom he has at his command magic enabling him to command spirits, create apparitions and manipulate the elements.

With the help of the spirit Ariel, who is bound to assist Prospero after being saved from a hellish fate at the hands of the witch Sycorax, we see Prospero taking revenge on his enemies with a furious storm.

Then, with the help of the ever-loyal Ariel, he introduces his teenage daughter Miranda (Elisabeth Hopper) to her first experience of love.

Meanwhile Sycorax’s offspring, the snarling monster Caliban, has been compelled to serve as Prospero’s slave.

But when he meets with two drunkards, Stephano (Clive Wood) and Trinculo (Nicholas Lyndhurst) and discovers wine, he is stirred to rebel against Prospero’s rule.

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Fiennes, who is of course well-known for using illusion and manipulation as the dark wizard Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies, is sublime here in the role of the brooding, tortured exile with magical powers.

If Fiennes is impressive, Lyndhurst is no less so, delivering a stellar performance as the jester Trinculo. He’s delightfully funny and supported well by Wood as his drunken partner in crime.

Giles Terera is accomplished and moving as the monstrous Caliban. And Tom Byan Shaw plays a quivering, highly camp and effusive Ariel.

Disappointingly though, the production and set itself appear a little old fashioned and dated, which is a shame considering the quality of the actors.

But this is a magical and exciting play and the cast really bring it to life, so for that alone, this is well worth a visit.

* The Tempest will run at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Suffolk Street, SW1, until October 29.