I remember standing at the foot of the stage of the reconstructed Globe Theater in London, watching The Tempest enacted above me. It must have been the year 2000, when I was a 10th grader in high school whose favorite class was English Literature. The trip to London was a high school field trip so I was surrounded by friends my own age, some equally entranced by the play in front of us and others somewhat less so. I remember the figure of Caliban, half-stooped and beast-like in its movements as it groveled at the foot of its master Prospero. I remember there were special effects to indicate when Ariel entered the scene and also to recreate the actual tempests in the play itself. It was a memorable experience and probably the reason due to which The Tempest is my favorite Shakespeare play.
When I picked up Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood I really didn’t know what to expect. We’ve all seen Shakespeare romances reinterpreted for modern times, especially in the form of movies. The Tempest is a bit of a different story and I wasn’t sure how a written modern version of it would fare. I had also never read a book by Margaret Atwood – mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. All my reservations were dispelled within the first few chapters of Hag-Seed. Atwood is a genius who has brought to life Prospero and the entire cast of characters in The Tempest in an incredibly vivid and contemporary portrayal that I could have never imagined possible, but am so thankful now exists.