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REVIEW ROUNDUP: Christopher Plummer Opens in The Tempest, Directed by Des McAnuff

Christopher Plummer in The Tempest
(© Stratford Shakespeare Festival/David Hou)
Christopher Plummer has opened in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's production of The Tempest. Directed by Des McAnuff, the production will continue in the theater's repertory season through September 12.

In addition to Plummer as Prospero, the company also features James Blendick as Gonzalo, Bruce Dow as Trinculo, Peter Hutt as Alonso, Dion Johnstone as Caliban, Trish Lindström as Miranda, Gareth Potter as Ferdinand, Julyana Soelistyo as Ariel, Timothy D. Stickney as Sebastian, John Vickery as Antonio, and Geraint Wyn Davies as Stephano.

The production features set design by Robert Brill, costume design by Paul Tazewell, and lighting design by Michael Walton.

The major Canadian dailies and Variety have posted reviews and most are praising director McAnuff's work and Plummer's interpretation and the ways in which the artists have collaborated. High marks are going, too, to the creative team for the visuals for the production.

Among the reviews are:

The Tempest
"The seemingly unlikely pairing of Classical Monarch Christopher Plummer and King of Glitz Des McAnuff proves to be a magical combination in their new production of The Tempest.


"Plummer's intellectual rigor has also rubbed off on McAnuff, whose textual readings this year (both in The Tempest and As You Like It) are not only crystal clear but full of fascinating twists and turns. This doesn't mean that the master showman has abandoned his capacity to fill us with awe and wonder, but all of his tricks of light and music and legerdemain now build to a thematic point."


"But in the end, it all comes down to Plummer. He guides us superbly through hurt and revenge into forgiveness, turning his act-five speeches into arias of rare complexity and making the play's final message delicately elegiac rather than sentimentally funereal."

The Star
Christopher Plummer's Tempest finds him on top
"The production that opened Friday night is scrupulously honest to Shakespeare's text but manages to bring a fresh approach to the work, allowing us to look at it and listen to it like we never have before."


"The wonder of Plummer is that as he gets older, his strength increases, but his method of displaying it grows ever more subtle.

"There are moments when that splendid trumpet of a voice roars, just to let you know that he still has the right stuff, but much of his performance is couched in tones that are conversational, yet totally audible and superbly nuanced."


"It's hard to praise the look of this show enough [...] Robert Brill has turned the festival stage into a charmed circle where anything can happen.

"Paul Tazewell introduces his usual boldly pleasing costumes and Michael Walton delivers lighting that shimmers with ever-changing illusions."

The Globe and Mail
McAnuff, Plummer find two paths to magic
"There are two magicians at work on the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's production of The Tempest.

"The first is Christopher Plummer, a true wizard with Shakespeare's words. Prospero's lines always flow with such natural ease from him, sometimes in what seems like spontaneous spurts, other times as if he's tapped into some enchanted well of poetry deep within."


"The second wizard here is Tempest director Des McAnuff, who certainly conjures some of the most technically impressive magic ever seen on the Festival theatre stage. His production opens with a bright blue Ariel (the tiny and talented Julyana Soelistyo) swimming down from the ceiling to retrieve one of Prospero's books - a move straight out of a Cirque du Soleil spectacular."


"The tone jerks about with the musical moments and spectacle taking place on their own little dramatic islands. The production works as a series of scenes, but the overall story gets somewhat lost at sea - the pieces don't quite fit together satisfyingly and that's true for Plummer's performance as Prospero, too."

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