Having seen The Tempest twice in the space of four days, I thought I'd write a review of sorts while it's still rather fresh in my memory.
Firstly, the play surpassed all my expectations, it was absolutely spellbinding -- I was rather taken with the idea anyway right from the start and figured it would be interesting, and possibly quite good, but it was very, very good.
The thing I liked most is how simple (in the best sense of the word) and natural the play is: there are no elaborate stage devices, no technical stuff, no costumes save for the hats & some sheets of fabric (I'll come to that shortly), and no background music except for what's played on stage. This might have been a shortcoming, but in this case it lets the actresses' talents shine through even more clearly.
When the Tempest Ladies came to class on Wednesday, and I asked how they would go about performing around 15 or so characters, being only six people, they explained that they used hats on stage to signify who is who. I found the idea intriguing, but had some doubts as to how they would be able to maintain the character when the person who's playing it changed from scene to scene. Well, I'm really happy to say that my doubts were eliminated rather quickly -- it's fascinating how each character has his own identity, and that remains unchanged throughout the play, who is playing Prospero for instance doesn't really matter, because Prospero as a character doesn't change according to the person playing it.
The use of music is appropriately done, especially at the beginning when the play starts off with a bang (quite literally). The singing wasn't half bad either! For me the memorable instances were when the Harpie was on stage (the screeching was proper unsettling) and in sharp contrast to that, the marriage of Miranda and Ferdinand, which was quite sweet.
Prospero's epilogue is spoken by all six actresses in turn, which I thought was a nice touch and an appropriate symbol for the unity of the play. And if the project was to please, then they have definitely succeeded, rather exceedingly so.
(Right now I'm trying to find something to criticise, to balance out all the praise I've heaped on, but can't come up with anything, so.)
If you missed this performance, you will rue the day for the rest of your lives! And I'm only half joking!