Set in the beautiful surroundings of the Master’s Garden at Wadham, The Tempest, brainchild of Light-Winged Productions, is a confident retelling of Shakespeare’s play, boasting some excellent acting and an imaginative production.
The Tempest is a brave choice of play. Set on an enchanted island and featuring shipwrecks, spirits and magical storms, as well as three plotlines which, for most of the play, do not interact, it is often passed over in student theatre. However, director Catriona Bolt has balanced these elements well, and takes the audience on a journey into Prospero’s enchanted isle as he attempts to revenge his exile and restore his daughter to her rightful position.
There are several parallel plots which run through the play: the noblemen and King scheming between themselves, the drunkards who find slave Caliban and plot to become rulers of the island, and Prospero himself, who watches as his daughter falls in love with a prince. Of course, everything ends happily.
The cast have been extremely successful in bringing out the comedy of the original script. Marcus McKnight-Adams and Charlie Tyrer as drunk sailors Trinculo and Stephano worked fantastically together, with some wry glances to the audience and plenty of innuendo. Laurence Belcher and Alice Moore, playing love-at-first-sight couple Prince Ferdinand and Miranda, were also an unexpectedly strong comedy pairing. Their decision to play the romance as humorous rather than serious was the right one; the Lady and the Tramp-esque strawberry lace scene which goes on behind Prospero’s back, in particular, had the audience in stitches.
In their marketing materials, Light-Winged Productions have focused on one line from the play – “the isle is full of noises” – and the soundscape is, fittingly, one of the most successful elements of the production. The nature of a garden play does not lend itself to impressive tech, but Sound Designer Jonny Dancinger had outdone himself here, distorting his own voice to create an ethereal Ariel (Prospero’s spirit servant) and tying together the production as a whole with musical themes which carry from the audience’s arrival to the very end of the play.
As with many shows, there were a few issues with opening night nerves which affected lines in the opening scenes and threw the actors a little off balanced. However, the actors regained their confidence as the show went on, and, with the first performance out of the way, doubtless these problems will soon be cleared up.
The Tempest has already sold out, but if you can source a ticket somewhere, this is an excellent production, in beautiful surroundings, and well worth the £6 price tag.