4 September 2011 | hte-trasme
An imperfect storm?
Although The Tempest is among Shakespeare's most popular plays and considered by many to be among his greatest, this reflective, thoughtful fantasy is not among his most frequently-filmed. This solid production, made for the BBC's series encompassing television versions of all of Shakespeare's addresses its theatrical and fantastical elements squarely, and comes off well without being great.
Michael Hordern is an excellent actor, playing his fretful, merciful old magician compellingly. His is an avuncular Prospero, and he doesn't really transmit the power or danger of the character. David Dixon, painted gold, gives a very eccentric performance as Ariel. His intentionally mannered speech patterns succeed in their presumed cause of transmitting a primary impression of otherworldliness (with also makes the fact that he's so strongly associated in my mind with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy less of a problem). Derek Godfrey just sneers and slithers his way through Antonio. The highlights may be the scenes with Warren Clarke's excellently fierce-yet-innocent Caliban and Nigel Hawthorne excellent as always Stephano.
Camera tricks are employed in force and tread a line between distracting and effectively understated. In all, the story is told through mostly very strong performances and adequate design in which must be considered a success, but not a runaway one.