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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Tempest, theatre review

Irene Macdougall and Samuel Dutton Pic: Douglas Robertson
Published in the Guardian
Four stars
Dundee Rep

AT THE hands of director Jemima Levick, Shakespeare's isle is not only full of noise but women, too. As seagulls scream over a very 21st-century set of washed-up bin bags, computer terminals and Irn-Bru crates, Irene Macdougall's Prospero is cynical, bitter - and unquestionably female. As well as looking out for Kirsty Mackay as daughter Miranda, she casts her magical control over a boiler-suited Emily Winter as Ariel and a pock-marked Ann Louise Ross as Caliban.

This unconventional casting turns the play into a metaphor not just for the sexual awakening of Miranda as she falls for Kevin Lennon's Ferdinand - the first man she's ever seen - but for relations between men and women everywhere.

Shipwrecked off the island, the all-male crew goes on a nightmarish journey laced with drunkenness, magic and despair, before finding resolution in the female heart of this "poor isle" where "no man was his own". When Ross's Caliban promises to bring wood, she grabs the crotch of Keith Fleming's Stephano to demonstrate.

There's nothing sexual, though, about the final reconciliation; rather, a tremendous sense of restored equilibrium between the sexes. When Prospero and her brother Antonio (Alan Francis) resolve their old dispute, it satisfies on a much broader scale than mere family argument.

Ti Green's stunning set is a repository for the world's rubbish, and Prospero's "most harmonious vision" of beauty an illusion projected by discarded computer screens. Showing a mastery of the verse that eludes some of her colleagues, Macdougall is an assured and rooted Prospero, a woman saddened by experience but with enough humour to suggest that there's life in this once brilliant creative mind yet.
© Mark Fisher, 2012
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