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  • Writer's pictureRachael Fulton

Bard In The Botanics: The Tempest (STV)

Article originally written and published for STV Local

"Here's neither bush nor shrub to bear off any weather at all, and another storm brewing, I hear it sing i'th' wind." Trinculo - The Tempest

Whether inadvertent prophecy or life imitating art, the storm that halted an open-air performance of The Tempest added an extra, sensory dimension to Shakespeare's play.

The Glasgow skies were dark with thunderclouds long before Prospero took to the stage to conjure Act 1's violent squall.

The production aptly demonstrated why Bard in the Botanics is such a well-loved feature of the West End Festival, despite being rained off before the final act.

With a strong cast led by recent Critics' Award winner Stephen Clyde, Shakespeare's classic tale of power struggles, freedom and magical spirits was made all the more enchanting by the damp, green surroundings of the Botanic Gardens.

Set on an island to which usurped Duke of Milan, Prospero (Clyde) has been exiled, Shakespeare's comedy follows the protagonist's quest to regain power and harness magic to control his fellow characters.

In summoning the tempest of the play's title, Prospero wrecks a passing ship and maroons its passengers on the island - leaving them dazed, grief-stricken and confused over their positions of power.

Tension between slaves and masters builds throughout the play, while love blossoms between Prospero's daughter, Miranda, and shipwrecked heir to the Naples throne, Ferdinand.

The strength of the actors in The Tempest's comedic roles drive the Bard in the Botanics performance, with Kirk Bage shining as lovable drunkard Stephano.

The interaction between Stephano and Trinculo, the hapless jester with a strong Glaswegian brogue, and servant man-beast Caliban (Paul Cunningham) deliver relaxed, natural banter which tickled Friday's audience - particularly when discussing the subject of 'yond black cloud' looming in the distance.

Meanwhile Nicole Cooper and Chris Fulton portray the fragility and excitement of young lovers Miranda and Ferdinand admirably, without allowing the characters' sickly-sweet adoration to become overbearing.

The wealth of talent within The Tempest's cast would have benefitted from greater financial backing to support the performance, as improvements to set design and costumes could allow them to utilise the space to its full potential.

Tormented spirit Ariel's harpy wings, which open mid-speech, could have provided powerful dramatic punctuation had they been more elaborately crafted - and if they'd not been damp from an afternoon's rain.

With the climactic scenes of The Tempest drowned by a good old Glaswegian downpour, it was difficult not to leave the Bard in the Botanics performance with spirits (magical or otherwise) dampened by Scottish 'summertime'.

Thankfully, with glimmers of sunshine forecast for the final fortnight of the play's run, there is plenty of opportunity to catch The Tempest without having to fully immerse yourself in an interactive wind-and-rain experience.

  • The Tempest is performed at 7.45pm in the Botanic Gardens until Saturday 7th of July, excluding Sundays and Mondays. For more information about the performance and to purchase tickets, visit the Bard in the Botanics website

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