B husband and I saw Sam Mendes' new production of 'The Tempest' last night at the Old Vic. It and 'As you like it' are the touring productions of his Bridge Project for 2010. 'As you like it' played earlier in the day with 'The Tempest' following in the evening at 7pm (earlier than usual to give the reviewers time to file for the morning papers it seems).
I have explained before my reluctance about theatre (unless it involved Mark Rylance...) but I really wanted to like this production because Stephen Dillane plays Prospero and although I have only seen him once before in Peter Brooks production of Hamlet, I recalled that he was very good, in an intense and mesmeric way. Perfect for Prospero I thought - except that he wasn't and for the play to work, even from my relative ignorance, Prospero has to command, which he didn't.
In conversation afterwards, I was relieved to hear others saying the same things, not least that we could barely hear him speak. It all seemed a bit quiet and flat - not quite a tempest then.
BM's eldest child played Prospero in a school production last Autumn (aged 9) and on balance, all of the things which they got right (the fury of the storm, the spookiness of the island, the joy of the reunion) were missing last night. Disappointing but there it is.
Oh, and because there was no interval (don't know why) there was no proper opportunity to do a bit of people watching, because of course the place was full of famous faces (apart from us). Had to content myself with a close-up of Kevin Spacey who was easily recognisable but many others, whose faces were familiar, I would have needed more time to put a name to.
On the plus side, it was still daylight when we emerged and we were home by 9.45pm!