out of Five
Running time: 77
An absorbingly raw and insightful docudrama, which brings together 17 young actors to present a 21st century retelling of a heartbreakingly relevant Shakespearean classic, but some viewers might struggle to stay in tune with Tempest’s amateur and experimentally dramatic aspects.
What’s it all about?
In the aftermath of recent government cuts and last year’s notorious England riots that together have forged and underlined the future uncertainty of today’s youth, Rob Curry and Anthony Fletcher present this re-imagining of William Shakespeare’s last great play, in which 17 young actors from South London’s communal, but struggling, estates attempt to bring back to life the story of The Tempest.
As well as rehearsing scenes and partaking in workshops, Tempest also offers a platform for the young cast to discuss their backgrounds, the motivations behind their involvement in drama and their relationship with the story of The Tempest, raising important concerns about what it now means to be young and British in today’s economic and cultural climate.
Addressing the stigma of today’s youth, Tempest is an incredibly significant and truthful docudrama, presenting the crucially important yet often neglected perspective of a handful of our nation’s youths, who choose to channel their ambition and determination through acting, as opposed to the life of sport and crime that society has already unfairly stamped on them. As a consequence, Tempest is incredibly absorbing and occasionally truly endearing, thanks to the exceptionally passionate efforts from its cast, who have all been clearly moved by the Shakespearean tale and its addressing of society’s identity expectations.
Tempest (which took almost five years to complete) flits between colour and black and white to ensure its shoestring budget doesn’t restrict its visual strength and the pleasant sounding score compliments its changing tone and mood in all the right places. Finally, Tempest’s faults are thankfully played on, with its occasional slip-ups as well as refreshing candour, presenting sporadic and welcome doses of comedy.
Tempest doesn’t follow the traditional rules of storytelling and narrative and so its amateur filmic style and overly dramatic aspects (which are mostly the cause behind its very few dips) are a little difficult to stay in tune with at times. As expected, the acting itself is not exactly Oscar-worthy and some viewers may also sometimes grow frustrated with the young cast, as they forget their lines, struggle to adapt to Shakespearean language and occasionally step away from the core storyline.
Tempest won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but never has a Shakespearean retelling played so much relevance in today’s society and so this passionately performed and candid re-imagining of The Tempest is definitely worth watching.