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Tempest blows itself out

The Tempest’s WAAPA cast in action.
The Tempest’s WAAPA cast in action.Picture: Jon Green

THEATRE

The Tempest

2.5 stars

WAAPA 3rd Year acting students

State Theatre Centre Courtyard

DIRECTOR STUART HALUSZ

REVIEW DAVID ZAMPATTI

You’d expect that an important part of WAAPA’s education of its young actors would be a full-blown tilt at Shakespeare and over the past few years they’ve done it regularly, and well.

The Tempest, though, is a shaky vehicle and this production in the acoustically treacherous STC Courtyard has its ups and downs.

Shakespeare wrote The Tempest at the very end of his career (it may have been the last play he wrote alone — it’s certainly his last significant work). The awe-inspiring language is still there — Prospero’s “Stuff that dreams are made on” and “I’ll drown my book” speeches are high, white palaces of word, speech and thought, and many playwrights would swap their entire body of work for Miranda’s “O brave new world/ that has such people in’t”.

But Shakespeare, in my midget opinion at least, was tired, and maybe a little bored, and it shows. The play sits uneasily between A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s fantasia and the Arcadia of As You Like It, and lacks the humour, or the developed characters, of either.

And that makes this an odd and unsatisfying choice for the Academy. The character list is an unpromising prospect for the cast; Prospero (Stephanie Somerville – the casting of a female actor in the role makes no statement, but presents no problems) is a bit of a bore, her daughter Miranda (Laura McDonald) and the Neapolitan prince Ferdinand (Mitchell Bourke) are gorgeous but vapid, and the various usurping and plotting aristocrats are a weak collection of nasty losers ridiculously easily dealt with by a bit of Prospero wizardry put into action by the athletic but annoyingly unmischievous sprite Ariel (Jake Fryer-Hornsby).

It’s good that the director Stuart Halusz resisted the fashionable temptation to turn the cranky demi-monster Caliban (Elliott Giarola) into a symbol of the resistance of oppressed peoples to colonialism, allowing its skits with the boozy Stephano (Joshua Orpin) and Trinculo (Rhianna McCourt) to be the show’s best moments. Trinculo’s gender change was a clear winner — it helped McCourt and Orpin pluck a frisson-laden highlight from what are pretty slim pickings.

The Tempest is on until tomorrow.

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