All entries for Tuesday 07 October 2008

October 07, 2008

Mirren and Brand

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2008/oct/06/russell.brand.tempest.helen.mirren

I can get on board with Russell Brand playing Trinculo in a new film version of The Tempest. In many ways I think he might actually be a revelation in the role, though equally he might unbalance the film. Still, one to keep an eye on.

But who is Helen Mirren playing?! Of all the Shakespeare productions she could be starring in, The Tempest is perhaps the oddest - there is only one female character (not counting the sexless Ariel), and she's a teenager, which Mirren would struggle to perform. Here, then, are my guesses:

  • Prospero him/herself? Vanessa Redgrave proved (to, if I remember rightly, slightly mixed responses) that the part can be played by an older woman in a production at the Globe.
  • Gonzalo, aka Gonzala, as was seen in the Guildhall production at the Complete Works Festival?
  • Ariel? This is possibly the most likely, as the part which is easiest to reinterpret according to your actor. I've never heard of an older Ariel, but it could be an extremely interesting decision.
  • Miranda, in a radical re-writing of the role?
  • And the mind only boggles at the thought of Helen Mirren's Caliban.......

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Peter Kirwan is Teaching Associate in Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama at the University of Nottingham and a reviewer of Shakespearean theatre for several academic journals.


The Bardathon is his experimental review blog, covering productions of (or based on) all early modern plays. The aim is to combine immediate reactions with the detail and analysis of the academic review.


Theatre criticism always needs more voices. Please comment with your own views and contributions!

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