If you asked the mirror on the wall, "Who's the greatest bard of them all?", the mirror would surely reply, "William Shakespeare!". It is not that storytellers over the years have been any less amazing, but there is surely no one who can match the fame of the 16th-century writer/novelist/storyteller/
Can Shakespeare be performed without words? Do the stories have the same effect when you take away its incredible dialogues? Helen O' Grady International took up that challenge. Their adaptation of The Tempest was a pantomime act. There were no dialogues and only the actors' capabilities along with the music told us the story of Prospero. The story begins with Prospero practicing magic when a messenger arrives with a message. Antonio, Prospero's brother, asks him to let go of the magic and look into the message. Prospero gives his crown to Antonio and asks him to look into it. Antonio, happy to be crowned Duke, dismisses the messenger and just when he is about to take his seat on the throne, Miranda, Prospero's daughter, arrives to take the crown from Antonio and restore it on Prospero's head. Angered by this insult, Antonio vows to take revenge.
For the people familiar with the story, this pantomime act would be a treat to watch as you see each scene being performed with nuances only a true Shakespeare aficionado would understand and appreciate. But kudos to the team for making sure that you don't actually have to know the story to understand it. Their performance was excellent as they mimed a story known for its words.
Vikas Baid as Prospero was as regal as you would expect a duke to be and Radhika Mittal as Miranda was a treat to watch. But Flavia Rodrigues as young Miranda stole our hearts. The overall play experience was a delight. You were greeted by people dressed in the Elizabethan era clothes, there was a Shakespearean quiz as you waited for the show to start, and the speed at which the questions were answered made you realize that the crowd was filled with people who knew the play and its author.
Watching a play at Royal Opera House is a treat by itself and watching Shakespeare there is an unmatched experience. The Tempest has been performed in various cities and will soon be going international. If it comes to your city, make sure you catch it.