Alonso, King of Naples, and his court are sailing back from the wedding of Alonso’s daughter when they get caught in a violent storm which threatens the ship. The ship is destroyed and the passengers are washed up on a nearby island. 

From the island watches Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, and his daughter Miranda. Miranda suspects her father has caused the storm using his magical powers, and fears for the lives of the passengers. She begs Prospero to calm the waters of the sea. Prospero tells Miranda the truth of her past. He tells her that he is the Duke of Milan and she is the Princess of Milan but twelve years ago he was overthrown by his brother, Antonio. Prospero explains that Antonio, aided by Alonso, arranged for them to be kidnapped and set adrift at sea. He tells Miranda that now is the time for him to exact his revenge on Antonio and Alonso. 

Prospero puts an enchantment on Miranda so she falls asleep and summons his servant, who is a spirit named Ariel. Ariel reveals that he conjured the storm and that all the passengers are alive but scattered over the island. He then reminds Prospero that he promised to set him free in return for good service, to which Prospero responds angrily reminding Ariel of how he freed him from …the tree where he was imprisoned by the dead witch Sycorax. Ariel apologises and, turning himself invisible, goes to spy on the shipwrecked courtiers. 

Prospero wakes Miranda and summons Caliban, the son of the witch Sycorax, who Prospero has made his slave. Caliban curses Prospero and tells of how he was stripped of his rule of the island by Prospero.  

On another part of the island, the invisible Ariel finds Ferdinand, Alonso’s son, and leads him to Prospero. Ferdinand meets Miranda and they fall in love instantly, however Prospero puts a spell on Ferdinand and takes him in under his charge.  

Elsewhere on the island are Alonso, Antonio (Prospero’s brother), Sebastian (Alonso’s brother) and Gonzalo (advisor to Alonso). They awake to find themselves safely on shore but Alonso mourns for Ferdinand who he believes was killed in the storm. Alonso and Gonzalo fall back to sleep but while they’re sleeping Antonio persuades Sebastian to kill Alonso and become King of Naples himself. Ariel overhears the plan and wakes Alonso and Gonzalo in time to stop the deed.  

In another part of the island is Stephano (Alonso’s butler) and Trinculo (the jester). They are drunk and Stephano starts to believe himself a King. The two men stumble across Caliban and they give him wine getting him drunk and resulting in Caliban believing them to be gods. Caliban tells them of his resentment for Prospero and his plan to overthrow him. This appeals to the drunken Stephano who agrees to assist Caliban in his plan. 

Prospero has made Ferdinand do hard labour, and whilst he is working Miranda visits him. They express their love for each other. Unaware that Prospero is looking on, they agree to get married. 

Antonio and Sebastian resume their plot to kill Alonso but again Ariel intervenes accusing Alonso and Antonio of their betrayal of Prospero. Alonso repents without hesitation but Sebastian and Antonio resist. Prospero then casts an enchantment entrapping them all. 

Miranda and Ferdinand’s union is blessed by Prospero and he orders a dramatic show to be performed for the couple. During the show Prospero remembers the threat against his life made by Caliban and leaves to prevent it. 

Ariel and Prospero set a trap for Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo by hanging beautiful clothing near Prospero’s cell. The three men enter the cell looking for Prospero and decide to steal the beautiful clothing. They’re caught and are driven out of the cell by sprits in the shape of dogs, set on by Prospero and Ariel. 

Prospero uses Ariel to bring Alonso, Antonio and Sebastian before him where he doesn’t exact revenge but forgives them of what they did to him and gives up his magic. Alonso relinquishes control of Milan and apologises. Antonio is notably silent. Alonso and Ferdinand are reunited and Alonso blesses his marriage to Miranda. Prospero presents Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo, dressed in their stolen clothing, who are then exposed to ridicule.  

Prospero asks Ariel to do one last thing for him: to make the waters calm for their voyage back to Italy, and then he sets Ariel free.  

Prospero then delivers an epilogue to the audience asking forgiveness for his wrongdoing and to set him free by applauding.  

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