Returning to Shakespeare’s Globe for the first time since his Olivier Award-winning performance as Falstaff in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Roger Allam brings refreshing humour to his portrayal of Shakespeare’s vengeful sorcerer.
Gone is Prospero’s darkness and authority to be replaced instead by handfuls of wit and comic delivery, which Allam throws at his performance as the Bard’s infamous magician. Conjuring a caring father, teasing master and avid book-lover, Allam draws more than the usual amount of comedy from Prospero’s relationships with his loyal spirit and precious daughter.
Colin Morgan – reclaiming the enchanting powers he exercised in BBC series Merlin – is enthralling and ethereal as Prospero’s servant Ariel, elegantly swinging off staircases and cartwheeling across the vast stage under the command of his master. Donning an exquisite costume formed of delicate pale wisps, the obedient sprite couldn’t differ more from James Garnon’s hideous Caliban, a deformed and terrifying creature who stumbles around the stage, bemoaning and burping at the audience.
Another duo whose performances shine through in Jeremy Herrin’s humorous production is Jessie Buckley and Joshua James. While Buckley wins titters from the audience as Prospero’s besotted daughter who falls head over heels for Ferdinand, James steals raucous laughter from the Globe’s crowds as the gawky but loveable prince.
The compelling performances are complemented in Shakespeare’s tale by the majestic evocation of the play’s island setting, with the sound of crashing waves and ferocious storms engulfing the venue and striking puppets of skeletal dogs and winged birds roaming the expanse of its stage.
The opening show in the Globe’s new season, The Tempest certainly makes an impact with its tale of an aristocrat usurped and exiled by his deceiving brother, drawing the attention back to the main stage following the announcement of the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse’s inaugural season.