In the second play in its season at the Roundhouse in Camden, the Royal Shakespeare Company's latest version of The Tempest opens May 7, 2002, in a production directed by Michael Boyd.
Boyd is one of the front-runners for the succession to Adrian Noble as artistic director of the RSC when Noble leaves — in March 2003 — so there is more riding on the success of this play than usual.
The opening of The Tempest, therefore, has a political implication as well as an artistic one. Given the mixed reviews for The Winter's Tale, both regarding the production and its use of space, the reception that drama critics give The Tempest will also confirm whether or not the RSC's decision to go to the Roundhouse rather than its more conventional previous home at the Barbican is seen as being adventurous or foolhardy.
In purely theatrical terms, however, The Tempest, Shakespeare's last play, offers a great showcase for the older actor, in the form of the main character Prospero (played here by Malcolm Storry), an exiled ruler with magical powers.
Prospero's farewell speech at the end of the play reads like Shakespeare's own farewell to the theatre: "Our revels now are ended . . .and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff as dreams are made on"
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow