Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Youngsters work up a storm

The Tempest

Stage 2

The Crescent Theatre


IF this production had found itself at Stratford rather than The Crescent it would not have looked out of place. It is that good.

Director Liz Light has taken a couple of liberties with the script. In Shakespeare's day the female parts would have been played by men, in this version key male parts are played by women.

Prospero the overthrown Duke of Milan has become a widow and a duchess while Antonio the usurping brother has become Antonia the usurping sister. Even the king's drunken steward Stephano has had a sex change to become drunken cook Stephana.

Not that that detracts unduly, indeed Chloe Jones in the lead role of  Prospero towers over the production , she is just magnificent while Jacoba Williams is outstanding as the drunken cook, which is not to diminish Bryony Lovell's performance in the less commanding role of Antonia.

The play opens with a storm, let's call it a tempest, which is whipped up by Prospero and her band of sprites and fairies, to bring Alonso, the King of Naples, Andrew Brown, his illegitimate brother Sebastian, Jonathan Dowsett, along with servant Adrian, Matt Childs and sister Antonia to Prospero's island.

With them is Gonzalo, a kindly courtier, who secretly helped Prospero and her daughter Miranda when they were banished out to sea, who is nicely played in another of the play's comic characters by Rowan Turner-Powell.

Also shipwrecked is Alonso's son Ferdinand who thinks has father is dead while his father thinks his son is dead.

It is no surprise that the plot is designed first for Prospero to right the wrongs done to her and then for the prince, played by Gabriel Hudson, to get hitched up with Miranda, played with all the innocence of youth by Sarah Middlemiss all helped along by Prospero's fairies led by Ariel, played with enthusiastic style by the young and diminutive Roni Mevorach


Shakespeare is not easy for youth theatre; even seasoned professionals see it as a challenge. The language is poetic, inventive and beautiful, flowing like music – but it is the language of Shakespeare's time, early 17th century English, with words, nuances, phrasings and meanings which are alien to modern speech.

Not easy to learn or deliver but this young cast did not, noticeably, make any errors and even finished five minutes earlier than advertised, which gives an idea of the natural rhythm they created to keep everything moving along.

And as this is Stage 2, the cast is of Ben Hur proportions, but no one steps out of the wings just so they could say they were in it in a Stage 2  production – even the spear carriers have to act and look animated, indeed it was noticeable that everyone looked confident, playing a part and at ease - even with 60 people on stage

Stephana is joined by the court jester Trinculo, played with timing and a light comic touch by George Hannigan in a sort of cross between Joe Pasquale and Bluebottle with plenty of visual humour to boot, both shipwrecked who team up with the scruffy, bear of a man Caliban, Prospero's slave, who wants to get his island back.

The trio are a comic diversion and very funny with Sam Hotchin giving us an angry, bitter slave offering devotion to anyone who helps him get his island back – which involves killing Prospero just in case we start to feel sorry for him.

The opening is spectacular and a lesson in how to create a shipwreck with little but a few lights and noise. If there is one thing that young girls are good at it is screaming and scream they did racing about in controlled panic along with the crew and mariners running around the auditorium like – well rehearsed - headless chickens, as we heard muffled shouts and orders as the ship was lost in a fearsome storm, or so we thought. Very effective and proving the imagination of the audience are all the special effects you need.

Director Light also uses every inch of the Crescent with action at the back of the auditorium, in the aisles and on the balconies

The clever set with a rock, bridge, platform or whatever is needed at the back has no designer listed which is a pity. The costumes by Sarah Kemp, assisted by Emma Thompson and Sarah Middlemiss, were excellent as was the music composed by Richard Williams.

We have come to expect a high standard from Stage 2 but this is an exceptional piece of theatre To 20-04-13.

Roger Clarke  

Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate