Blow hot and cold;Set Plays;Reviews;General;Theatre

29th January 1999 at 00:00
THE TEMPEST. Royal Shakespeare Company, Barbican Theatre, London. Tickets: 0171 638 8891.

Adrian Noble's production features a magical island where Caliban inhabits a huge conch and spirits work transformations with no more than swirls of blue cloth. Dun-coloured Caliban (Robert Glenister) is earth to the airiness of Scott Handy's stately, white-skinned Ariel. Fire and, of course, water, heralded by creaking ship's timbers even before the curtain rises, also make their presence felt.

David Calder is a struggling, fallible Prospero. His delivery is always intelligent, but his voice sometimes lacks gravity.

This production is beautiful to look at and always clear,with a genuinely funny comedy duo in Adrian Schiller as a sad-faced Trinculo and Barry Stanton as the drunken butler, Stephano.

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