Friday, 1 August 1997

The Tempest by Horned Moon, Aug 1997


The Tempest by Horned Moon
Merlyn Theatre until August, 1997

 NB This review was published in The Melbourne Times in Aug 1997
Much new and interesting Australian theatre emphasises the physical and visual. When this is applied to a dense text namely Shakespeare's The Tempest,  the company needs more than acrobatic skills to make meaning of the rich imagery embedded in the language.

The program notes for this production by Horned Moon, declare that it 'deliberately foregrounds the actor's body and their (sic) skills which realise the body as the site of theatrical meaning.' There are moments when the bodies serve the narrative, the text, the magic of Prospero and the intention of the play.

The design (Douglas Iain Smith) of massive earth-coloured cloth is evocative and flexible. One memorable scene was Prospero suspended aloft, draped in this gigantic cape and actors' entrances through gaping holes in the fabric ar effective.

This is a 'courageous' production in the sense that Sir Humphrey Appleby would use the term. It takes risks but they do not quite succeed. Miranda (Kate Parker)as a rough diamond has possibilities but she is played relentlessly as a simian creature.

Comic characters Stephano (Amanda Douge) and Trinculo (Sohie Raymond) as women is a novelty. Dunstan is a sweet-voiced Ariel but playing him as a semi-crippled sprite is an odd choice. His assistants are vsually exciting but intrusive as they scuttle about. There is far too much posturing amongst the aristocrats from Italy who look inappropriately  like catwalk models.

To use the program's words, this 'deliberately eclectic production' has lost 'itself in diversity.' 

KATE HERBERT