Footsbarn Theatre is a well-seasoned and renowned international touring company which boasts a cast of multi-lingual performers with a truly impressive plurality of talents – they dance, they sing, they play zithers. Their production of Indian Tempest was originally workshopped in India, where it will eventually return to tour, and is currently touring throughout Europe.
Before attending this production of Indian Tempest in the Dublin Shakespeare Festival, I had somewhat gleeful expectations to pepper my review with the term “post-colonialism” one of the more generally applicable “isms” going and particularly so with The Tempest. But the well-travelled company is so exuberantly multinational it is exceedingly difficult to apply this dangerously overused term to their production at all.
One of the performers introduced the play with a familiar tone and warned the audience, “to not be afraid” of the many languages which would be involved as we would be able to understand the play through other means of performance. When the tethered Caliban, entered with both an English accent and a dreadlocked wig and cowered before an Indian Prospero who spoke in Malayalam, English, and occasionally French, I too surrendered to Prospero’s spell and simultaneously realised that neither “postcolonialism” nor most academic terms were applicable to the situation.
Footsbarn usually perform in a circus big top, and appropriately, the company generously provides all the old fashioned carnivalesque pleasures. They deftly weaved the story of Prospero, the despotic magician, through a variety of media, including: puppets, Commedia delle Arte style masks, shadow play behind scrims, decadent costumes, harmoniums , violins, and fire. Footsbarn’s eager eclecticism is appropriate for the ‘family friendliness’ which seems to be expected in open air theatre. And what open air. Trinity Campus’ campanile makes a stunning backdrop to this entertaining spectacle, two hour reworking of The Tempest.