Six months after my initial gamble on a passport to Borduria (and entrance to all six installations representing The Tempest in its myriad forms), I can’t deny that I was feeling sad about the end of RETZ’s grand experiment. I had fallen in love alongside Miranda, watched Prospero wrestle with his pride, thumbwrestled Trinculo (and won!), and been accused by Sebastian of being a unicorn (after various sprites had loaded me up with Earl Grey martinis). I had been taken on a twisty tour of the warped mind of Caliban.
I had truly been to a brave new world: and, though I did not want to see it come to an end, I also did not want to not be there when it ended. So I booked for “The Port,” which had a damned narrow window of opportunity to visit: only three days worth of performances! But how could I say no to a last chance to see
“How many goodly creatures are there here!
“How beauteous mankind is!”
Arriving at the the Bordurian headquarters, I found that, for the first time, I was able to enter through the front door. Inside, for the sixth and last time, the space was wholly transformed: now it was a travel agency for the Bordurian Ferry system. It looked like we were going to be taking a trip! I perused the various items for sale (tapes from the Bordurian Women’s Choir; a travel adaptor; strange souvenirs), checked in at the counter (I was actually not on the passenger list but they let me on anyway as I had a valid ticket), then sat down in the waiting lounge, where I was pleased to see a woman I’d made friends with on a previous trip. We had a chat, then a man came in the room to gather us up: we were to be transported to a secret location via electric cart. Whee! We toddled on to the waiting vehicle, then began to slowly buzz up the streets of Hoxton, until we came up to and over a bridge … over the Regent’s canal. It was a glorious summer night (after weeks of rain), and people were sitting out at cafe tables beside the peaceful water. Suddenly it became clear to me that we really WERE going to go on a boat trip, not just hang out in the lobby of a travel agency, or watch the show in a warehouse. How exciting!
Our guard Yuri appeared and led us down to the towpath, where we stood, visiting amongst ourselves. Some of the people there had been to all (or most) of the other performances (like me), and they were also sad that this was the last go-round. I stood watching the backs of warehouse buildings and wondering how deep the water was (and talking about theater to a cute girl in a bow tie), until at last a narrowboat pulled up in front of us, piloted by the good captain Daisy. We were loaded on, and suddenly, amidst the chaos, I noted that a man stood at the prow – Prospero had returned! We were going to get a performance on a moving boat … how novel, and how appropriate for a play about a shipwreck!
And then we cast off, and Prospero began to talk about his future. He spoke to ARIEL (projected, as ever, but this time on the back on the boat’s engine room door), I was sometimes able to hear him, and I kind of went into a reverie caused by cool water, damp breezes, and the sight of a terrorized duckling desperately trying to catch up with his mother. God, it was lovely, and it looked like Prospero was going to finally loosen up. I approved.
Then we pulled up under a bridge, and behold! It was King Alonso, good Gonzago, and those two scurvy villains who’d been trying to murder the king earlier. They embarked, Prospero mildly rebuked the bad guys, and we sailed away to the sound of Alonso mourning the loss of his son. And then … on the opposite banks … two lovers leaned against a post in a clinch. Beyond them, two other lovers played hide and seek … and these were Miranda and Ferdinand! Alonso was overjoyed – I couldn’t help but feel happy with him – and though we kept going, we knew that all would be well for this young couple and their parents.
And what to wondering eyes did appear, huddled against the banks of the canal in a ratty old rowboat, but none other than sad old Caliban and her two drinking buddies. They then desperately tried to catch up with us in a scene that to me captured everything you needed to know about Caliban’s character … always behind, desperate to be one of the crowd, but just not together enough to be able to do it. The more murderous elements were not in play, but as we (and Caliban) pulled up to our final port of call, it was she who offered a hand to get me off the boat … and I asked Prospero if I could trust her. “I suppose you can, this once,” he replied. I then shook his hand, walked to the exit, and firmly grabbed Caliban … and got a good lift up. “Best of luck to you and thanks for everything,” I said, and Caliban offered me a drink … which I accepted.
All in all, it couldn’t have been more perfect.
(This review is for a performance that took place on Saturday, July 21st, at 19:55. It’s all over now. I’m sorry.)