ACT IV SCENE I
be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
It was a rare privilege to be at Mark Rylance’s farewell performance after 10 years as artistic director at the Globe. The Tempest performed with just three actors and no interval, in a mixture of modern and traditional style. Rylance was Prospero/Stephano/Alonzo, Alex Hassell was Caliban/Gonzalo/Sebastian/Ferdinand and Edward Hogg was Ariel/Antonio/Trinculo/Miranda. All three were on stage for the whole performance, along with three dancers and all the interacting with a everything they all did was meticulously, flawlessly and inventively choregraphed and directed. Even though they often switching characters mid sentence and getting all the mileage they could out of the confusion, comingling and interchange between them all, the delivery made everything crystal clear and got every single joke out of the immortal text. It was the funniest Shakespearean comedy I have ever seen. And a most fitting adieu.
SPOKEN BY PROSPERO
Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint: now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon’d be,
Let your indulgence set me free.
I was very happy to join a delighted audience and a devoted troupe of actors and supporting cast from his ten year tenure in applauding Mark Rylance’s devotion to Shakespeare and the Globe and cry tears of joy at the magic he’s made possible and that have been lucky enough to share in.