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Review: The Tempest Live

Review: The Tempest Live

Review: The Tempest Live cover photo on Stagedoor
Creation and Big Telly’s live and interactive one-hour version of The Tempest (extended to April 25) is a bit of a mess. But I mean that in a good way.

It’s not elegant, it’s definitely not subtle but it is lots of fun and it’s family friendly.

What it does do, which is certainly not true of a lot of on-line theatre in this time of isolation, is to turn the audience—watching from their own living rooms—into a community. There were lots of times when I watched people conjure the storm that brings the usurping Antonio and his lackeys to the Prospero’s isle, or send the shipwrecked to sleep by singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, when I just had a silly grin on my face.

The show is at the mercy of everyone’s internet connections, but Zoe Seaton’s rough and ready, pared back production acknowledges that and doesn’t go for too much finesse. But there are some interesting things going on here including a calculating Prospero (Simon Spencer-Hyde) who is trying to keep a firm control on the unfolding scenario through the magic of technology and surveillance. Oh, and more than a little help from Itxaso Moreno’s slinky spike haired Ariel who is often the conduit between the action and the audience.

Still from The Tempest Live.

Designer Ryan Dawson Laight sure knows how to create atmosphere with just a few fairy lights, some filmed sequences are cleverly spliced into the live action (I enjoyed Anabelle terry’s Miranda and Ryan Duncan’s Ferdinand spying on each other) and one of the best bits of the hour long show comes at the end when we see the illusion being dismantled.

Not all of it works, the press conference sequence on the ship feels forced and it’s a pity that more thought hasn’t been given to the diversity of the casting. On-line work doesn’t and shouldn’t have a free pass on that.

There are times when it’s much more pantomime than poetry, but at a time when a lot of on-line offers are geared to pre-recorded straight to cameras there is something enormously cheering about watching a show with a live audience. All power to Creation and Big Telly for having the nimbleness, vision and let’s-give-it-a-go spirit that makes this hour come vividly and enjoyably alive in all its engaging scrappiness.

The Tempest live is running until Sat 25 Apr. You can book tickets here

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Lyn Gardner

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