Ends Feb 19

The Tempest (St. Ann's Warehouse)

Members say: Great acting, Ambitious, Great staging, Absorbing, Masterful
21 reviews
15 reviews

St. Ann's Warehouse presents the final installment of Donmar Warehouse's trilogy of all-female Shakespeare productions set in a women’s prison. Directed by Tony nominee Phyllida Lloyd
and featuring Harriet Walter.... Read more

After being exiled for decades to a fantastical island, Prospero unleashes a churning storm to shipwreck the brother who stole his throne. But bitter revenge is upended by newfound love in Shakespeare's classic romance. St. Ann’s has been a proud home for this trilogy, which has ignited a cultural and social conversation about gender, equality, and aspiration on both sides of the Atlantic, as it empowers women to play Shakespeare roles normally reserved for men.

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Reviews (36)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

The New York Times

"An exhilarating production…I’m talking about the giddy liberation that comes from being caught up in a collective fantasy that makes you forget how small your existence can feel…It is the most purely pleasurable of the trilogy and the most entertaining ‘Tempest’ I’ve ever seen…I rarely stopped to consider that I was watching women playing men. I was too much under the spell of make-believe that is theater, in which a talented person can will herself into any form." Full Review


"The divine Harriet Walter plays Shakespeare's most godlike creation, Prospero, with uncommon depth of feeling…The prison motif works better here than in any of Lloyd's previous efforts, leading to the kind of seamless storytelling that one hopes for (but rarely gets) when Shakespeare is adapted to an unlikely time or place…In this week of presidential pardons, 'The Tempest' and its themes of clemency resonate, particularly in this astute adaptation." Full Review

Time Out New York

"An effective, well-edited Tempest (105 minutes without intermission), and Walter’s emotionally translucent Prospero—bluff pride exquisitely mingled with shame and penitence—is reason enough to attend. The rest of the youthful, multiracial cast does energetic, appealing work." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Lloyd’s staging of 'The Tempest' imagines that the play is being performed by an all-female cast of inmates. And as with the previous productions...the approach has its pluses and minuses...The ensemble is headed by the formidable Harriet Walter, giving a superb performance as the magician Prospero...Despite the actors’ fine efforts, the meta-theatricality of it all—winked at when one of the characters complains about 'postmodern shit'— proves more gimmicky than enlightening." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Harriet Walter's Prospero is such a thrilling and original characterization that it very nearly justifies Phyllida Lloyd's over-interpreted staging…We are seeing ‘The Tempest’ as produced by specific prisoners...This is an interesting idea as far as it goes, but the constant intrusion of episodes of the inmates' daily life proves to be irritatingly intrusive…Certain ideas already seem past their sell-by date...The casting is extremely variable…The comedy subplot is especially lumbering here." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"The formidable Harriet Walter, as directed by the equally formidable Phyllida Lloyd, is delivering the most astonishing reinterpretation of a famous William Shakespeare speech you might ever hope to witness…Walter is giving her devastating performance in the third of the all-women Bard trilogy…There is so much clever in the Lloyd approach that it’s hard to know where to start…Lloyd is full of additional surprises, too...Foremost are the delightful performances she plucks from the cast." Full Review

AM New York

"The prison concept does not always serve the play well, but it reflects its themes of physical dislocation and overcoming destructive anger...This production makes a great case for the ongoing practice of performing Shakespeare for and with prisoners. Now that Lloyd’s trilogy is ending, it would be nice to see more all-female or gender-blind productions of Shakespeare, but they do not necessarily need to be tied down to an experimental concept." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"It’s not much of a criticism to say that the rest of the cast is not at Walter’s level; who is? But every concept exacts a price, and if your concept is that a bunch of prisoners, with all their diverse accents and perspectives and abilities, is putting on a play, inevitably some of the sophisticated, single-point-of-view beauty of the text is going to be lost…Most of the time, Lloyd’s production seems to be making an excuse for nontraditional casting instead of merely exulting in it." Full Review


"It has some terrific coup de theatres that are bound to tickle your fancy...Walter, doubling as Prospero and the inmate Hanna, is superb...One of the marks of a great production is that it makes you see a familiar text in a fresh light. Lloyd's gender-blind 'Tempest' set in a prison does that and more. It invites you to watch women step into traditionally male roles with no apologies. What's more, it forces you to witness up-close how our justice system works—and how harsh it can be." Full Review


"Remarkable…A brisk two hours that fly by…The entire cast is almost too good to be true. So good in fact, that they make you forget how superb the remarkable Harriet Walter is as Prospero…The production is proof that it doesn’t take a massive bankbook to create great art…It’s not dazzling, until it is—when the lights go out and we all bring forth the starlight with our tiny lights in the darkness. It is magic right there, it is community, it is joy, it is beauty—it is what theater is all about." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

“'The Tempest' is about a private individual, but perhaps even more absolute power–the power of the ruler of a tiny island, Prospero (Walter)...This production, set like the rest of the trilogy in a women’s prison, highlights how limited, how constrained, and how ephemeral that power is…The prison conceit doesn’t always prove effective, but it really hits home in 'The Tempest’s closing moments, which prove resonant and unexpectedly touching." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production "Lloyd’s production is a glorious reminder that genuine diversity on stage offers astonishing creative benefits. Everyone on stage looks different, sounds different and uses their body differently. Yes, it’s a hotchpotch, but a thrilling one. There’s not a character here who isn’t sharply defined…The all-female casts and prison setting make you see the play afresh…This is genuinely art to enchant." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

for a previous production "The fusion of theme and setting becomes profound and moving…Walter becomes superb as Prospero. Here, her prison character, Hannah, fuses with Shakespeare’s magician. A lifer, she cannot ultimately leave her 'island', but must free herself through reconciliation with the past. She uses the play to do so...It becomes an immensely moving, communal piece about the transformative nature of art, the difficult necessity of forgiveness and the human cost of incarceration." Full Review

London Theatre

for a previous production "Lloyd's version arrestingly incorporates some of the supposed prisoners' own back stories into the fabric of the piece...But if there's a meta-theatrical element to it, the performances are robust and revealing on their own terms, without this editorializing. Walter is a revelation as Prospero; she has a quiet but devastating authority. And she's surrounded by a really superb ensemble…This production is both unique and faithful to the spirit of a play about letting go of the past." Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

for a previous production "An insightful triumph of pared-down theatre…Becoming more familiar not only with particular actresses but also the prisoners they loosely characterize, is a feature of the cycle’s particular accumulative power. There’s a lot of fantastic work in the ensemble. But it’s not enough to note how terrific – agile, alert, heartfelt – Jade Anouka is…You picture the untapped talent, too, in the fictional prisoner she embodies…Lloyd gives us rich food for thought by 'poor-theatre' means." Full Review

The Independent (UK)

for a previous production "A brilliantly bracing new version of ‘The Tempest’…There’s a quirky earthiness, comic grit, and fiercely choreographed punch in this splendid diverse cast which has no weak link…The production is full of delights – especially Jade Anouka’s streetwise, red-wedged Ariel…Walters’ delivers a wonderfully intelligent performance…There have been many high-profile Shakespeare productions to mark 400 years since his death. Lloyd’s 'Tempest' is my personal favourite." Full Review

Time Out London

for a previous production "Walter's dignified performance keeps it all fairly grounded…In a slightly convoluted meta-theatrical device, we learn at the start that Walter is technically playing a prisoner who is playing Prospero…So when Prospero asks that we set him free, we know that on one level that’s impossible. But as Walter-as-prisoner bids goodbye to the rest of the cast, she seems like a wise and decent person, a dignified testament to the possibility of redemption and forgiveness." Full Review

The London Evening Standard

for a previous production "Walter aside, the standout in a strong cast is Jade Anouka...But for all Ariel's dazzle, this isn’t a production that shimmers with exotic images…Yet there are some moments of beauty…Intimate, exciting, often abrasive and sometimes startlingly funny, it’s a celebration of ensemble acting and of the fertile possibilities of breaking free from conventional ideas about casting." Full Review

The Times (UK)

for a previous production "Lloyd’s production pushes in various directions and finds less added resonance from a show that deals less in factions and politicking and more in magic and control…While the relationship between prison setting and island setting is clearly marked, the show doesn’t sell us on the link emotionally. Walter is restless as Prospero...She’s a great actor but I’m not convinced she’s found her character this time…There is magic here, but there is also clatter." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

for a previous production "Of all the three it’s the least theatrically satisfying, a little bitty and fitful in comparison. But while it lacks of the propulsion of ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Henry IV,’ it features a commanding central performance from Harriet Walter…While it might be the least cohesive of the three, as the culmination of a project that explores how Shakespeare is played and by whom, that populates the stage with fascinating, complex women, it is still a production of power and a source of joy." Full Review

What's On Stage (UK)

for a previous production "This sense that Shakespeare is embedded in our reactions to our problems is one of the great benefits of the staging, emphasizing his essential vitality. Another is the pure, bravura clarity of the telling, its imaginative richness…It's as beautifully staged as everything else, though is perhaps inevitably less fluent than the first two plays, well-oiled from performance. But Walter is a superbly compassionate Prospero controlling all around her with a kind of aching sorrow." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Resonant, Confusing

See it if Donmar's take on Shakespeare is always worth seeing. The female cast works; im not sure the prison setting does. Walter is magnificent.

Don't see it if you don't want to contemplate the nature of captivity, or feel it cant have any connection to Shakespeare. The text is heavily edited.

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Great writing, Action interruptions

See it if you like Donmar works. Good text cuts, but annoying prison interruptions.Full immersion is impossible. Well acted and well staged.

Don't see it if you want traditional Shakespeare; this is not! I liked the all-female cast, esp'ly Walter. She has the presence to anchor the play.

Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Innovative staging

See it if you LIVE for innovative Shakespeare adaptations and all-star ensemble casts.

Don't see it if don't enjoy non-traditional Shakespeare productions, or Shakespeare in general.

Funny, Absorbing, Ambitious, Delightful, Great acting

See it if You enjoy watching an exceptionally talented ensemble perform and appreciate modern takes on Shakespeare.

Don't see it if You hate modern takes on Shakespeare or traveling to Brooklyn to see better-than-Broadway performances.

Enchanting, Great acting, Masterful, Riveting, Great staging

See it if You love the theater, Shakespeare, being entertained, being moved, great acting, great art, life itself.

Don't see it if You hate theater, being entertained, being moved, life itself.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if Enjoy Shakespeare's with a modern twist. Great performance!

Don't see it if Don't like Shakespeare.

Ambitious, Great acting, Relevant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You like creative and different interpretations of Shakespeare plays. That are true to the text but give you a very modern view.

Don't see it if You like classic versions of Shakespeare plays with traditional casts and settings.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Must see

See it if Enjoy Shakespeare and the versatility of his works. Great cast. Clear storytelling.

Don't see it if You don't like "concepts"

Clever, Quirky, Dated

See it if You are a fan of the original play, this is a good production with clever casting.

Don't see it if You can't stand yet another Shakespeare revival in a different setting.

Great acting, Masterful, Profound

See it if you like new ways to look at Shakespeare, and with a focus on language!

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare or are a traditionalist.

During previews
Clever, Enchanting, Resonant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You like to see well thought out, well acted and finely staged Shakespeare plays.

Don't see it if You only like your Shakespeare traditionally staged.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if want a superbly acted, all female production of a classic. It 's set in an all female prison. Worth the trip to Brooklyn

Don't see it if want a traditional production

During previews
Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Confusing, Great staging

See it if You like the idea of an all female " Tempest " that takes place in a prison

Don't see it if If you think that productions of Shakespeare's plays have to be very traditional just like the writer imagined them

During previews
Ambitious, Edgy, Intelligent, Masterful, Relevant

See it if You don't mind seeing "concept" Shakespeare. See it if you want to see a take on the Tempesr that speaks to loss of freedoms today.

Don't see it if You aren't open minded to unique casting, or are a stickler for "tradition "

For a previous production
Ambitious, Disappointing, Cliched, Overrated, Great staging

See it if you enjoy unconventional Shakespeare and explorations of gender roles.

Don't see it if you are looking for a more conventional take on Shakespeare. Also, I don't recommend it for serious connoisseurs of theatre.

Also While the show really wrestles with the modern questions of identity t... Read more Read less