The Tempest

I’ve seen many wonderful productions of The Tempest over the years but I can’t recall one as thrillingly exuberant as Bilimankhwe’s Anglo-Malawian version at Greenwich Theatre.
There was no Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio or Gonzalo in director Kate Stafford’s minimalist staging. Instead she concentrated on Prospero’s obsessions – revenge and marrying off his daughter. This meant some of the play’s darkness was lost. But the trade-off, through Ben Mankhamba’s great live score, Shyne Phiri’s choreography, Hazel Albarn’s African set, the translation of some lines into surtitled Chichewa, the inspired decision to cast two men to play multi-faceted Ariel and the performances of the actors was compensation enough. Christopher Brand was a towering (in every sense) Prospero, elfin Cassandra Hercules was playfully perfect as Miranda, Robert Magasa and Joshua Bhima danced, sang and spoke in ethereal harmony as Ariel and Stanley Mambo was magnificent as Caliban. The Greenwich dates marked the start of a UK tour of The Tempest, so see it if you can.

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