A few weeks ago, Melle and I attended the last, last performance of this year’s production of The Tempest at Stratford. The run was supposed to close on the Sunday, but they added a Monday matinee for charity so we got some tickets. We weren’t sure if we’d get a bunch of hungover people from the original wrap party basically phoning it in, or a tight troupe wanting to give it all for their last show. I think we got effort, but not so sure on the quality of some of the performances.
If you’re not in the know, the play starred Christopher Plummer. And he clearly enjoyed the role. It was a pleasure to watch him deliver so naturally what others were struggling to do. Plummer just delivered Prospero – with some wry here and some drama there and some anger over there. On paper, I can’t say I’m a fan of this character, but I thoroughly enjoyed what Plummer brought to it.
He was matched by Julyana Soelistyo, playing Ariel. Truly a sprite of a woman, she played Ariel as no one’s fool, but one very interested in playing others the fool – not with too much malice, and with a lot of playful indifference. And her lyric interludes were whimsical with a bit of an edge. From what I read of her bio (she’s new to Stratford), she was up for a Tony for Golden Child.
Their mutual admiration society was most evident in the bows. Plummer pointed to her several times during his own (well-deserved) standing ovation and his smile was genuine, indeed.
Now on the not so much, Trish Landstrom, playing Miranda (Propsero’s daughter) was a definite mis-cast. Default delivery face was a very unfortunate constipated befuddlement. Yeah, like that. Her elocution wasn’t bad, and from what I could tell, her timing was good, but I just couldn’t get past the face.
Bruce Dow and Geraint Wyn Davies were mostly entertaining as the mostly drunk and temporarily ambitious Trinculo the Jester and Stephano the butler. Though Davies’ Scottish accent seem a bit ephemeral. Of course, I canna bite at him too hard since he is Forever Knight.
Dion Johnstone, who I liked as MacDuff in that other play, gave a great physicality to the part. Complemented by the excellent costume design by Paul Tazewall – it was half fish, half beast. Very earthy despite the nautical theme of the play.
The ovation for Plummer at the end was genuinely heartfelt, and if he doesn’t return for another year at Stratford, I can say I saw his last performance. Definitely a pleasure.