“We are such stuff as dreams are made of.” The Tempest
makes quite an interesting fantasy, what with the interactions among humans, spirits, demons and gods. It’s also well balanced in terms of romance, coups, death plots and revenge, all weaved together with humor and amusement. Though it all seems incongruous, it does make sense and is quite entertaining.
In terms of language, I think this play is one of the bawdiest I’ve read. Those first few speeches are full of coarse and unsavory language, not to mention curses, and given that this play is a fantasy with magic and spirits, there are consequences to what is wished. When someone says, “I’ll rack thee with old cramps, fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar, that beasts shall tremble at thy din,” that’s certainly no empty threat. ;)
Whenever I read these stories, I’m attracted to those uncouth characters that are up to all kinds of mischief, with lots of amusing mishaps along the way. In this case, we’re given three such characters: Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo. I love Caliban the most, especially when he spies Stephano bearing that bottle of “celestial liquor,” which automatically grants Stephano god status. ;) If Richard Burton really played Caliban on the stage, that truly must have been a sight to see!
Addendum: Just finished watching the play on Youtube. Richard Burton does indeed play Caliban other notable cast members are Roddy McDowall as Ariel and Lee Remick as Miranda. It’s an old production, but the costumes are priceless. Burton and co. are great, though I did wish Burton’s costume wasn’t so dark, as he blends into the background. Regardless, it’s still worth the look.