The Tempest

Aces High promise a radical, multimedia, re-gendered re-imagination of The Tempest, but deliver a bit of a damp squib, something more like a light drizzle or a power shower when the pressure isn't working.The American cast spend most of the production trying to shout over some canned rain – an interesting novelty in Edinburgh – but heavy accents, sloppy diction and stress patterning that often runs in wilful opposition to the verse means that intelligibility is often cast adrift; an aspect which should perhaps have been more prominent when dealing with a script which has already, ironically, been substantially messed around with.One notable exception is the delivery of the 'thousand twangling instruments' speech detailing the island's wonders, a rare success from Kevin Wang as Caliban who strikes an affecting tone of tender, wounded naivety. Mary Ann Mackey does a decent job as a commandingly waspish Prospero, losing none of the gravitas of this grand old man of theatre (played, after all, in many 19th century productions by a woman). The best thing about the show by far is Jenny Montes, playing Trinculo as an idiotic Paris Hilton-style socialite whose gasping exclamation 'Oh. My. Troth.' is the only point at which the half-arsed modernisation justifies itself. She also provides the only genuine laughter in what is, after all, supposedly a comedy.There's nothing intrinsically wrong with this re-interpretation, but cross-casting most of the play's main characters, turning Prospero and Miranda's father-daughter relationship into a clash of two generations of women, seems to be a gimmick done for its own sake, serving little dramatic purpose. The multimedia could have worked. A backdrop of supposedly live feeds from 'Sky Cam' and 'Caliban Cam' reminds us how much of our modern experience of the life of Caribbean islands takes place through watching celebrities eating kangaroo genitals under TV surveillance; but if there's one thing an ever-present surveillance state in a theatre production should never do, it's allow you to forget it's there. Sometimes the sound and fury technology was effective, particularly in Ariel's opening magic sequence, but when it didn't work on cue the actors looked as silly as I imagine they felt.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

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The Blurb

One woman holds the powers of advancement, liberty, redemption, love. What can a new world teach us, and what can be discovered within ourselves? Aces Wild bring rough magic to Shakespeare's romance. Fantastical regendered multimedia production.

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