The Tempest

B2, Belgrade Theatre


I don’t need 400 words; I need only one – and one that Shakespeare didn’t have in his lexicon of reputedly more than 200,000 – WOW will do it. See a space and fill it.

Oddsocks Theatre is famous for ‘starter Shakespeare’ with entertainment and comedy at its heart and particularly for children, with which the Belgrade was well-stocked, quite literally, to the rafters. The audience of schoolchildren at our performance were not just ‘engaged’ but gripped.

There was silliness, songs, Star trek, Star Wars and more. All the actors are also musicians and the songs are carefully chosen to progress the story but also appeal to young minds. There was no dumbing down and I particularly loved the section where Prospero is telling young Sebastian that ‘we are such stuff that dreams are made on’ etc and Sebastian’s face elegantly registers complete vacancy.

Prospero tells us sotto voce that Sebastian doesn’t understand . . . it made me analyse anew that it doesn’t actually matter if we can’t follow every word. The concepts are often complex, the language that houses them also needs to be complex; it’s enough to know you are in the presence of greatness.

Exiled Duke of Milan Prospero (Andy Barrow, who also directs) and his daughter Miranda (Alice Merivale) have been transported aboard their spaceship to the mysterious island of Babel where they have rescued evil Sycorax’s children magical Aerial (variously Alice Merivale, Amy Roberts and Matt Penson) and Caliban, half man, half fish (Dominic Gee Burch).

Prospero has used his magic powers to ‘shipwreck’ his brother Antonio (Gavin Harrison – who also plays Trinculo beautifully as CP3O) and Queen Alonsa (Amy Roberts) who have usurped his Dukedom.

Alonsa’s son Ferdinand is presumed dead and mourned though we already know that he and Miranda have met and fallen deeply in love. The action follows their meetings with the strange characters of the island. This makes it sound so dry but truly I smiled for two hours, enchanted by the wit and charm of the piece in Oddsocks’ hands.

Oddsocks is also presenting Romeo and Juliet this year. In Coventry, there is another chance to catch them at Fillongley Lodge on the 1 July as well as many tour dates until the end of August including the mac pn 14 July and Stratford-upon-Avon 27-28 July. Any age will find it well, well worth it.

Jane Howard


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