Lockdown reviews: The Tempest

I’ve never thought of Zoom as a platform to experience theatre but these are strange times, and Creation Theatre (together with Big Telly Theatre) have risen to the challenge to make something just a bit different.

Using The Tempest and developing it into a live, interactive show lasting just over an hour shouldn’t really work, but the innovation and ingenuity of directing this on a video conferencing platform made this a fun experience.

Directed by Zoe Seaton and beautifully designed by Ryan Dawson Laight, The Tempest (“live, interactive and in your living room”), has each actor on their seperate webcam, but now and again devises ways from them to appear ‘together’.

Ariel (Itxaso Moreno) cajoles the audience into moments of participation, while Prospero (Simon Spencer-Hyde) comes across as more a deposed duke on a holiday than a man in exile. Audience members were fun to watch, too, mimicking animals and tempting the bad guys at the feast.

P.K. Taylor has a spot of scene-hogging as Caliban (if you keep the participant videos up during the show keep an eye on him now and then), and if the Shakespeare is necessarily sheared, it still retains the basic story. I particularly liked the opening where audience members could ask (prompted) questions of key characters from their sofas or back gardens.

At a cost of £20 for up to two viewers, and £30 for a household, this is one of the more expensive theatre streaming options available during this time of crisis, but it does deliver a unique experience, delivered in a high-quality manner (this afternoon’s recording did develop a sound lag and stutter on my screen towards the end, but it wasn’t too distracting).

The cast of nine are a curious group when viewed in isolation, without the ability to witness their interplay. However, their timing on a live performance was excellent, and their abilities to inhabit a character was hardly diminished. Clever, too, to show the tricks and mechanics behind some of the sequences as Prospero intones “our revels now are ended”.

As well as those actors already mentioned, The Tempest features Annabelle Terry (Miranda), Ryan Duncan (Ferdinand), Madeleine MacMahon (Sebastianne, as this is now a peevish, boozy woman of the court), Rhodri Lewis (Trinculo), Giles Stoakley (Antonio) and the pet-loving Alonso (Al Barclay).

The Tempest was supposed to be only available over the Easter break, but it seems more performances will be available soon. Check details on the Creation Theatre website.

LouReviews received a complimentary ticket to join this performance of The Tempest (together with stuffed penguin, Chloe).