The collaboration between Fullers Brewery and Open Bar Theatre has led to a tour of The Tempest across pub gardens, socially distanced between cast and audience, and with many hand sanitiser jokes.
We were at the Duke of Kent in Ealing last Monday, just a short drive from home, and as press, were seated off to the edge of the playground on high stools around a planter.
Perfect for viewing both the show and the safety measures in place, we also sampled the at-seat food and drink delivery, which was simple (a QR code led to an order page), quick and unobtrusive.
The seating was set out in 2s, 4s and 6s, with a mix of chairs and benches, all sanitised before use. Two metre distancing was strict from the queue at the pub entrance, through the one-way system, and through into the garden.
Audience members were invited to find their own seats and masks were optional once seated at tables, so bear in mind if you choose a central position. There was no mixing between seated social bubbles, and bar staff wore masks as they delivered orders.
And so to the show. The Tempest runs two hours with an interval and is ripe for both humorous exploration and physical stunts. Ariel, “and all its quality” (Laura Harling) displays flying and magic skills through a series of aerial moves, and a vicious, filthy Caliban (Vicky Gaskin) leaps and jumps around the scaffolding set.
With a cast of six, multiple roles add to the amusement, with Nathaniel Curtis juggling Ferdinand, the King of Naples, and Trinculo, with increasing mania and frustration. Tempering his performance is that of Jessica Alade as the usurping Antonia, sister to Prospero, and the pure Miranda, who finds love in her “brave new world”.
As Prospero, Adam Courting strikes a fine balance between the quest for revenge and the primeval urge to protect his child. With Thomas Judd as a fun, drunken Stephano and a duplicitous Sebastian, this production, directed by Nicky Diss, is just the thing to entertain on an admittedly chilly evening.
Follow future plans for the Open Bar Theatre by visiting their Facebook page.
The Tempest toured until 1 October. LouReviews received complimentary tickets to check out The Tempest and the Fuller pub garden collaboration with Open Bar Theatre.