Found this review in the NY Times about a London production of The Tempest where “…there seems to be little question that everything that happens occurs in one man’s mind. Or that this Prospero, who conducts conversations with the figures on a chess board, is experiencing something like a nervous breakdown in iambic pentameter.”
I just love that idea. Poor old Prospero, abandoned to die on this distant island, hallucinating about a life where he has the power to exact revenge upon his enemies and watch over and protect his daughter as she grows into a young woman, as fathers are supposed to do. It’s sad, but it’s a great interpretation. Puts all the fairy/seamonster/magic-book stuff right into perspective if you consider that it’s all just the ravings of a man going crazy.