The Tempest, by William Shakespeare (performed by a full cast)

This production is based on a performance from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2014.

The performance opens dramatically with a loud boom, and the listener is thrown immediately into the sound of the tempest. Through the noise of the storm & sea it is difficult (but not impossible) to make out the lines. At this point I was worried it would be unlistenable due to heavy sound effects. Fortunately this lasted for only the first minute or so. From there it’s “plain sailing” (pardon the pun).

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival have put together a fantastic cast for this performance of Shakespeare’s magical romantic comedy. Each voice actor is beautifully suited to their role & their characterisations are delightful. The voicing is clear, unlike many older audio performances of Shakespeare. Each character has a distinctive voice which makes it easy to keep track of which character is speaking. Lack of distinctive voicing in audio productions of plays is a frequent problem that can often make them difficult to follow. Not the case in this production.

Sound effects are used very well – in particular for the character of Ariel. The sprite’s voice is digitally altered which enhances the magical feel of the character. Ariel also appears with a sound effect that lets you know when the sprite is in scene but invisible to other characters. It’s a clever device that doesn’t distract, only contributes to the recording. Other sound effects are used occasionally throughout to indicate change of scene.

There’s no denying that visual performances have an advantage for Shakespeare’s plays, but this is a very fine adaptation to audio.

The Tempest (unabridged performance)  • by William Shakespeare • performed by a full cast • 2.0 hours • published by Blackstone Audio • 2015 • ISBN 9781481530729

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