Saturday, 23 April 2016

"The Tempest" by William Shakespeare
Nottingham New Theatre.

On the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, Nottingham New Theatre performed "The Tempest". I had expected that the NNT may have updated the play but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there hadn't been much updating at all and they stayed relatively loyal to the Bard's script.

Director Chris Trueman and producer Emma Kendall may have injected a few modern ideas into the play but on the whole they lovingly kept, what is a brilliant story, an even more brilliant story, getting the balance just about right. I can only imagine that taking on a classic piece of literature and theatre was not the easiest of tasks either. Emma K was assisted in the production stakes by Emma Summerton.

The story is of a wizard who causes a storm to shipwreck his enemies and they end up on a "magic" island with comical outcomes. There are cheeky spirits, a jester, a slave monster and a butler. Combine this with a love story and you have a very entertaining plot.

Maddy Strauss had the daunting task of playing the most well known of The Tempest's characters, Prospero, but she did a brilliant job as the play's protagonist.

Prospero's daughter, Miranda, was played by Felicity Chilver. One half of the love story and naive but loyal. then Ferdinand comes into her life and the two fall head over heels in love, and don't they make a lovely couple.

Ferdinand is played by Thomas Dooner and it's difficult to believe that this is his debut with NNT. He has a real feel for Shakespeare's words and delivered them with such conviction and ease, as if it were his native tongue. Hopefully we'll get to see more of Thomas in future productions as he is a natural actor.

Ariel is always thought to be male but Ariel's form and gender, as Prospero's spirit helper has never been confirmed. Anna Scholes plays the role mischievously and is a real joy to watch the fun element she brings to the play.

The slave monster, Caliban, starts off looking really quite frightening but, after the odd glug of alcohol turns out to be just one of the lads on the magic island, which he really thinks is his. Malcolm Jeunet was great fun to watch play this part.

Emily Sterling played Alonso, father of Ferdinand. Matt Standen played Sebastian, the brother of Alonso and Daniella French played Antonio, who is Prospero's brother. There's a very funny scene when the two are on guard and about to kill Alonso, when he wakes up to see the pair with swords drawn, only to dream up the excuse of chasing off lions.

The elder statesman of the play, Gonzalo, is played by Bernie Kerr, who really got into character as the wise old man who delivered a wonderfully poetic piece in Act One describing the island.

Bringing the true comedy to the play are the characters Trinculo and Stephano, played by Laurence Cuthbert and Josh Mallalieu. A brilliant choice of casting these two. I've seen both Josh and Laurence before in productions and they never fail to raise a smile. Playing a drunk who sings could produce some strange noises but Josh really has a good singing voice; powerful and strong and would love to see him have a go at musicals. Laurence has a natural flair for comedy and between the two characters, they deflate the power struggles and petty arguments of the others.

Really making this play special was the constant soundscape designed by Joanne Blunt and the exciting lighting design by Sam Osborne.

i must mention the make up as well which was fantastic, from the plain white Pierrot faces to the slave monster's demonic look.they were all really effective.The hard work of Sasha Gibson and Emily Sterling.

A great way to celebrate the Bard's 400th celebration of remembrance, and I think that he would have approved, even of the celebratory disco dancing in Act Two.

Wonderfully entertaining and a real pleasure to see actors of these tender years embracing the works of Shakespeare with such obvious love of the work and with total understanding of the script.

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