Did Shakespeare enjoy a remarkable presence that informed him of Boris Johnson’s future appearance? Did he think in the early 17th century that such chaos would reign, like hoping for an army to bring fuel to our cities?
Or one day in Scotland we will need a passport to get into theater, but there won’t be one, if we get married and change our name?
So, Will seems to be on the money. Tempest tells the story of life on a small fantasy island after a shipwreck, a perfect allegory for the Covid pandemic.
The central character, Prospero, is the leader of the island, a Boris in fact, and a man more desperate to cling to power Dame Cressida Dick. Prospero and Boris are also fans of the crowd, plate-spinners, making smoke and mirrors desperate to maintain the illusion of positivity; but both are in denial of the facts around them.
Yes, there’s a perceived similarity of both characters, but it’s all a facade for an underlying need to dominate. And both are surrounded by evil goblins. (Come on; didn’t you also immediately think of Michael Gove and Priti Patel?)
Now, no one is saying that Boris Johnson is like Prospero did, marrying his daughter to maintain control of the island. But didn’t he offer his new partner (and their dog) for every convenient opportunity the photo would be available?
And didn’t he show the Prospero-like indifference when he sacrificed what Matt Hancock and Dominic Cummings wanted? Doesn’t he use a series of ruthless Calibans, a character Shakespeare described as a ‘shoe licking’.
It seems like the perfect timing that director Andy Arnold decided to revive The Tempest. Is it a play that is dreamy, surreal (just imagine Iain Duncan Smith being hit in the head with a traffic cone, or 90-year-old Captain Kirk entering space) romantic and cruel? Doesn’t this sum up the situation on our own little island today?
It is also a play about the marginalization and fragility of women. (Perhaps Cressida Dick should have been sent an invitation).
However, you watch the casting of an all-female cast of 11 women and raise your eyebrow. What in the name of Gielgud (one of the most talked about Prosperos ever) is going on? And wouldn’t we expect the evil Caliban to be played by Lenny from River City?
But remember this; three years ago, Tron launched Pride and Prejudice (Sort of) with an all-female cast wearing frocks and Doc Martens. And I have more reservations than the Sioux. However, it was impressive and has now moved to London’s West End.
Forgiveness and repentance are themes that emerge at the end of the play. Did Shakespeare expect that courts of Covid inquiry will find favor with those who behave excessively, or will politicians rush to declare mea culpa?
Maybe Will isn’t so good at the endings.
The Storm, Tron Theater, Glasgow. Friday October 29-Saturday 13 November