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Shakespeare in the park: The Tempest

A brilliant play filled with magic, love and family — this is one show that should not be missed.

Yonas Ngaturi
Yonas Ngaturi

Published: 4 May 2015, 12:00 AM

The annual Shakespeare In The Park was reminiscent of the olden Shakespearean plays held in an open-air theatre. Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) has managed to recreate that experience, allowing the audiences to have a picnic with their families while watching the magic unfold on stage.

This year they brought The Tempest to Fort Canning Green via a huge stage, which looked like a map in an open-faced book. There were many lights and doors fitted on the set, allowing the performers to enter from multiple entrances, even from below the stage.

 

This is one of the biggest stages built in Singapore.
Photo credit: Facebook.com/SingaporeRepertoryTheatre

 

The play started off with Antonio, Alonso, Sebastian and Gonzalo on a ship. They soon face a storm (a synonym for “tempest”) and get shipwrecked on an island.

It is revealed in the next scene that this was the work of Prospero, the overthrown Duke of Milan. Prospero, who had been living on the island for 12 years with his daughter, Miranda, shipwrecked the men to take revenge on them for overthrowing him.

Through his scheming, his magical charms and the help of a magical spirit named Ariel, he succeeded in his plans and was restored the Duke of Milan.

 

Ariel and its master, Prospero.
Photo credit: Singapore Repertory Theatre

 

As with all Shakespearean works, it is advisable to read the story first before coming to the performance. The cast was incredibly eloquent with classical English and pulled off the necessary accents.

The set was very minimal, with only a stack of Prospero’s huge spell books on stage. The few props that were used were put into good use. I liked the way was the blue ombre cloth was draped on the ship to symbolise that the ship has sunk during the storm.

Interestingly, most of the costume and make-up of the magical spirits seem to be inspired by Asian spirits and myths. The lady spirits had long, bright red hair, and pale faces, making them look like pontianaks.

 

Ariel in her spirit costume.
Photo credit: Singapore Repertory Theatre

 

Ariel, a magical spirit under the command of Prospero, orchestrated many tricks with music and the other spirits. She was an absolute joy to watch, taking the stage and captivating the audience with her movement and musical abilities.

The show mostly ran smoothly, save for a key moment when the music failed to play. However, Prospero improvised by stomping his staff on the ground, giving rhythm. Ariel sang an a cappella track while the dancers performed their routine.

It was an absolute joy catching The Tempest, which was dubbed by experts as the last play that Shakespeare had written before retirement.

In Prospero’s epilogue, which felt like Shakespeare’s way of bidding the theatre world goodbye, he said that he was done performing magic and wanted the world to release him by applauding his performance.

“But release me from my bands, with the help of your good hands,” he said.

“Let your indulgence set me free,” he ended, inviting the audience to applaud and approve of his work.

Those who have bought their tickets to the show are in for an evening of magic, adventure, love and family warmth. Coupled with the outdoor atmosphere, it was truly an experience that will leave you spellbound.

Directed by Braham Murray, Shakespeare In The Park — The Tempest stars Julie Wee (Miranda), Simon Robson (Prospero), Ann Lek (Ariel), Theo Ogundipe (Caliban), Timothy Wan (Ferdinand), Terence Wilton (Gonzalo), Ian Shaw (Alonso), William Ledbetter (Sebastian), Matt Grey (Antonio), Shane Mardjuki (Trinculo), Daniel Jenkins (Stephano), Egan Chan (Boatswain). 

The Tempest runs until 24 May, and tickets are priced from $40.


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